Fred Funk recalls Tiger Woods vent session during 2004 Ryder Cup debacle
If you’re a golf fan and watch the sport on TV, that means you know about the Ryder Cup, which means you also probably know about the 2004 Ryder Cup and the infamous Tiger Woods–Phil Mickelson pairing.
It didn’t go well, as the game’s two biggest stars were paired together by captain Hal Sutton for both sessions on Friday at Oakland Hills. They lost both contests.
Sutton’s decision to pair the rivals was highly criticized that week and has been referenced many times in the years since, a reminder that chemistry matters in team golf.
Fred Funk was a member of that squad and remembers it well. The eight-time PGA Tour winner joined this week’s GOLF Subpar Podcast to talk about that Ryder Cup week, how he got into the game, boxing, his love of hybrids and more.
Mickelson has spoken at length about that week at Oakland Hills, saying that he and Woods were given two days notice that they’d play together. Woods and Mickelson lost their Friday fourballs match, 2 and 1, to Colin Montgomerie and Padraig Harrington, and they also lost their afternoon foursomes match, 1 down, to Darren Clarke and Lee Westwood.
Funk told Subpar co-hosts Colt Knost and Drew Stoltz that he rode in the courtesy car back to the hotel with Woods and Woods’ then-wife Elin.
“I said, ‘How was it?'” Funk said. “And he goes, ‘How was what?’ I go ‘How was it?’ And he doesn’t reply. And I go, ‘Tiger, how was it with Phil?’ And he’s just shaking his head. I said, ‘What’s the deal?’
“He goes, ‘He was useless! He didn’t help me one shot,'” Funk continued, raising his voice for emphasis. “And that was the year [Mickelson] just switched over to Callaway with all new equipment. He was never with us all week, he was always somewhere else testing clubs, testing balls, trying to figure out. And [Tiger] just said, ‘He doesn’t know where the ball is going, he doesn’t know how far to hit it, he can’t keep it on the goal course, he didn’t help me one hole!’ … So we are just laughing.”
Europe went on to win that Ryder Cup 18.5-9.5, still its largest winning margin ever.
“Now, I’m not trying to knock anybody here, because I actually loved how decisive captain Sutton was,” Mickelson said back in 2016. “I feel like that’s a sign of great leadership. Had we had time to prepare, I think we would have made it work. But that’s an example of starting with the captain, that put us in a position to fail and we failed monumentally, absolutely. To say, well, you just need to play better; that is so misinformed because you play how you prepare.”
You can check out Funk’s complete Subpar interview below.