With his quick smile and easy-going demeanor, Funk has become a favorite among fans and tournament organizers.
And on Thursday, that appreciation was demonstrated in a ceremonial way.
Fred Funk is the first professional golfer to surpass $1 million in prize earnings combined between the Broome County Open and the Dick's Sporting Goods Open. He first played En-Joie in 1989 as a member of the PGA Tour and went home with a check for just over $1,000. Since then, he's played either the B.C. Open or the Dick's Sporting Goods Open 19 times.
"I just love it. It's a golf course that I really enjoy. I stay with a family here, the Barbers, that I've stayed with since 1990. Their daughter nannied for us for a couple years for my daughter. We're really, really close. It's kind of like coming home when we have this event," said Funk.
In recognition of the million dollar milestone, the tournament arranged for Endicott to present Funk with a ceremonial key to the village. Deputy Mayor Dave Baker knows Funk well as he's also the head marshal for the event. Baker says Funk has never been one to take his frustrations out on others.
"Fred is never upset. Hits a bad shot, never gets unhappy, he's always smiling, very friendly, very approachable, we love that," said Baker.
In 1996, Funk had plenty to be happy about at the B.C. Open. While much of the media and spectator attention was on Tiger Woods only appearance at En-Joie, Funk went about his business taking home the championship. Now, he gets to add a 2 lb. brass key to his trophy case. He says he's never received a key to a city before, but he's eager to try it out.
"It is pretty cool. I'd really like the key to get me into any ice cream shop that's around town and I could eat all the ice cream I want," said Funk.
Funk took home $540,000 for his 1996 B.C. Open victory, which represents more than half of his winnings at En-Joie.
Over his career, he's won eight times on the PGA Tour and nine times with the Champions.
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