Taylor Funk (right) fired 69 on Saturday for the victory
WEST POINT, Miss. — Charging from behind on the inward nine, University of Texas sophomore Taylor Funk won the 109th Southern Amateur by a stroke on Saturday at Old Waverly Golf Club.
Funk joins a special list of former Longhorns to have won the Southern Amateur, including Justin Leonard (1993), Mark Brooks in 1981, and Ben Crenshaw (1973).
In and out of the lead most of the day, Funk, son of PGA Tour veteran Fred Funk, made a key birdie on the 15th hole when he lashed out of the rough to within a foot of the cup.
A hole earlier, Funk had made a disappointing double-bogey at the par-4 14th hole when his tee shot found hazard on the left side of the fairway. But he rebounded triumphantly with back-to-back birdies at 15 and 16.
"I just had one bad swing with my 5-wood off the tee," Funk said of his lapse at the 14th. "It's probably one of my best clubs in the bag. I always hit that one well.
"I knew if I just stayed composed and kept grinding, I had a par-5 coming up and birdied that one and then judged a flier really well on 16 and ended up making that for birdie, as well. Getting those two after the double was big."
Funk fended off second-place finishers Taylor Hancock, a senior at the University of North Florida, and Ben Suarez, a former golfer for McNeese State, by a single shot. His lead on the 18th tee box was two.
"I felt it was mine to lose at that point," said Funk, who played the dangerous 18th hole cautiously for a bogey 5 to close out a final-round 69, and the victory.
Hancock fired one of the lowest rounds of the day in his final round, a 67, to jump into the runner-up position while Suarez carded 69 with three birdies in his last four holes.
Funk's experience around his father during his combined 17 wins on the PGA and Champions tours surely came into play during Saturday's victory.
"I've been able to witness a lot of those wins up close. I even caddied for him for one of them," Funk said.
"He told me last night it was all about composure," he added. "I was composed today and didn't let anything get to me."
Now entering his second year as a Texas Longhorn, Funk will look to excel on a team dripping with top collegiate talent, including 2014 Western Amateur winner Beau Hossler, 2015 Western Intercollegiate and Big 12 Championship winner Scottie Scheffler, and 2013 U.S. Amateur Public Links runner-up Doug Ghim. With the team losing key senior Kramer Hickok, Funk can certainly fill the void.
"It's really helped improve my game, showing me where I need to be to make it on Tour some day," Funk said. "It's good to get this win to represent the Longhorns even better."
Tying for fourth place were two stars on the 2015 season — Matt NeSmith and Bryson DeChambeau. NeSmith, the South Carolina senior, won last week's Players Amateur while DeChambeau, a senior at Southern Methodist, was crowned the NCAA individual champion at The Concession Golf Club at the end of the spring season.
Third-round leader Jarryd Felton, a 19-year-old Aussie from Perth, birdied three holes in a row from 4 to 6 but failed to make another red number the rest of the day. He bogeyed four of his final 12 holes and posted 73 on Saturday to finish three shots back in a tie for sixth place.
The Southern Golf Association contributed to this report.
ABOUT THE Southern Amateur
The Southern Amateur, which dates back to 1902, is
one of two competitions held by the Southern Golf
Association. (The other is the Southern Junior.) Its
champions roster is like a who’s
of competitive golf. (And the same could be said of
the standing of its host clubs.) Leading this group is
Robert T. (Bobby) Jones, Jr., who was the Southern
Amateur Champion in 1917, 1920, and 1922. Others
who have won or finished in a challenging position
gone on to national and/or international prominence
include Tommy Barnes, Dale Morey, Don January,
Brewer, Doug Sanders, Billy Joe Patton, Lew Oehmig,
Hubert Green, Downing Gray, Marvin (Vinny) Giles,
Lanny Wadkins, Steve Melnyk, Tom Kite, John
Mahaffey, Ben Crenshaw, Gary Koch, Bill Rogers, Gil
Morgan, Danny Edwards, Andy Bean, Vance Haefner,
Jerry Pate, Chip Beck, David Edwards, Jay Sigel, Bob
Tway, Mark Brooks, Gene Sauers, Davis Love, Justin
Leonard and more recently PGA Tour standouts Webb
Simpson and Kyle Stanley, who won twice each
between 2005 and 2008 in alternate years.
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