Four months ago, Brad Faxon had a broken wrist and didn't know if he could ever play golf again. Today, he proved more than that.
Faxon beat Fred Funk in a two-hole playoff to win the B.C. Open. It was his sixth career victory and first in two years, and surely one of his sweetest.
"It's really nice to be able to come back and win this soon after injury," said Faxon, who broke his left wrist in late May while changing a floodlight on the roof of his Rhode Island home. "It could have been a career-ending thing."
After playing 36 holes and one playoff hole over 12 hours on Sunday, Faxon parred the only hole the pair played today. He won in 15 minutes when Funk self-destructed on the par-4 No. 18.
Funk's drive sailed into the trees lining the right side of the fairway and his second shot ricocheted off a tree trunk diagonally across the fairway.
"It's a tough driving hole," said Faxon, who earned $288,000. "It's one of the toughest driving holes on this course. There's water left, and with the pin on the right side you can't really use the right side of the fairway. You hit it in that right rough, you don't have a shot at the flag. Where Freddie was, he couldn't get it to the pin even if he hit a perfect shot."
When Funk's third shot landed in the lone sand trap guarding the green, he had to settle for bogey. All Faxon had to worry about was making par. He drove the right side of the fairway, lofted a wedge to 50 feet and two-putted.
"I felt fortunate to be in a playoff," said Faxon, who was 129th in earnings entering the tournament and in danger of having to qualify to keep his PGA Tour card. "It's funny. I really used that as a challenge more than anything because I feel like I'm a little bit better player than that."
Funk, a former University of Maryland golf coach, shot a 61 Saturday for his best round in his 15 years on tour. But he lamented what might have been. He entered the final two rounds Sunday with a five-stroke lead over Faxon and South African rookie Rory Sabbatini, and watched it slowly slip away.
"It's really, really discouraging because it was truly my tournament to lose. I should say it was my tournament to win, and I ended up losing it," said Funk, who beat Pete Jordan to win the B.C. Open in a playoff three years ago.
Two rounds were played Sunday because rain from Hurricane Floyd forced postponement of Thursday's opening round.
Fog delayed the start of play Sunday, making for a long day, and it proved too much for Funk. He opened the door for Faxon on No. 15 when he had a one-stroke lead. His second shot spun off the green into water, leaving him with a bogey.
There was more drama to come. With portable lights brightening the green on No. 18 as the last rays of daylight faded, Faxon forced the playoff with a 25-foot downhill birdie putt that broke about a foot right.
"It doesn't feel too good," said Funk, who finished second in the Air Canada Championship two weeks ago. "I've been knocking on the door all year and haven't broken through, and it's been getting really frustrating."