Late bloomer Robert Funk, minus the thorns, eyes the U.S. Amateur – Orange County Register

CANYON LAKE — Robert Funk lives on a promontory, inside gates, near Lake Elsinore.

His two sons, Corey and Capron, are razor scooter champions who record their stunts on You Tube, much to the delight of their 3.5 million followers and various orthopedists. Funk handles their contracts and their business.

He has his own business, too, as an electrical contractor. He nearly lost it to a friend’s malfeasance and another time to a recession, so he keeps it under his thumb, in his garage.

Against a back wall of that garage is a constellation of golf trophies, even though Funk, 54, didn’t play the game until he was 27.

He is one of the top senior amateurs, and he was low amateur in the Senior Open. That opened a heavy door for Funk, who plays Monday in the U.S. Amateur, at Riviera and Bel Air. Two days of stroke play lead to a match play bracket. If he gets there, he says, he’ll be dangerous.

Funk is quick and direct, like his golf swing. He’ll stay in L.A. this week, but he’ll avoid certain places, and the echoes they trigger.

Just south of Sunset, there was an exit off the 405 that led to Brentwood, and there was a traffic island there. For nine months of Funk’s youth, he took a box to that island and slept there each night. There was no other place to go.

“Kind of a tumultuous upbringing,” Funk said one morning last week, in the garage. “My parents were divorced. I was going back and forth. I was drinking, using drugs. At one point I just left because of my mom’s issues. I’d go to the VA Hospital and hang with people. It’s kind of a fog now. It was a lonely life.”

Funk dropped out of high school as an 11th grader and went to the California Conservation Corps, in Barstow. “That was one big party, too,” he said.

He was shaken straight by a situation he doesn’t want to discuss, except to say it affected his family. Thirty days in a Costa Mesa rehab center, and now he hasn’t had a drink in 31 years.

“I’d be out with the guys and some of them would go to the bar and some to the golf course,” Funk said. “I started going to the golf course.”

Funk discovered he had firepower but not enough compass. Driving too far to the right, he began seeing Ed Howard at Costa Mesa Country Club, who said, “You’re way beyond me.” Funk respected his honesty and started working with Robert Sherwood in Murrieta. When he was 43 he won four tournaments in one season, including three SCGA events.

To say Funk didn’t consider the…

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