"It was a great experience,'' Funk said. "I think my wife and I and everyone that was there was made to feel so comfortable. It was really laid back and a lot of fun.''
Of those golfers, Funk posted the best score Thursday with a 3-under-par 67, one stroke off the lead. The former University of Maryland golf coach is a hometown favorite among the galleries here, and he hopes to reward his local followers with his first area win.
"You put self-imposed pressure on you,'' Funk said of his troubles in area tournaments. "You want it so bad.''
Funk lamented his play off the tee Thursday after missing three of 14 fairways. He was 1-over after 10 holes but eagled the 415-yard par-4 11th and birdied Nos. 16 and 18. On 11, his 9-iron from 139 yards hit 6 inches from the hole, took one hop and dropped in.
"I was playing a little too conservative and a little too scared off the tee,'' he said. "I was mainly trying to stay out of that really thick rough that was out there because once you're in that stuff you're done, you're chipping out.''
FURYK AND FLUFF Co-leader Jim Furyk shot a 4-under-par 66 with the help of a course expert.
"He knows the greens pretty well,'' Furyk said. "He was able to help out the last time I was here on a few putts and today on a few key putts when he made some good reads. I still have to hit the golf shots, but I'm comfortable on this golf course already, and to have him ... know the golf course so well can only help.''
Furyk was accurate off the tee, as usual. The PGA Tour's third-most accurate driver was steady and took few risks in hitting 12 of 14 fairways. He made three birdies on the front nine, gave back a stroke with a 3-putt bogey on the par-3 10th and birdied Nos. 13 and 16.
"I really kept the ball in front of myself today, hit a ton of fairways and I was able to knock a couple putts in here and there,'' Furyk said.