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Fred Funk has 'dream finish' hole-in-one in Senior Players Championship third round

Fred Funk hit a hole-in-one on the 17th hole on Day Three of the Constellation Senior Players Championship. (MIchael Ares / Baltimore Sun)

Fred Funk knew he drove the ball well off the 17th tee, but the Takoma Park native couldn't track its path through the sun's glare.

As it rolled along the Caves Valley Golf Club green during the third round of the Constellation Senior Players Championship, Funk caught a glimpse as spectators raised their hands and cheered.

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Then, the ball disappeared. Funk made a hole-in-one.

"That was really great," Funk said after finishing Saturday's round at 3-under to improve to 6-under entering the final day. "Usually it doesn't work out quite that good, so that was a dream finish."

Before that eagle on the par-3 17th, Funk had an internal conversation.

The former Maryland golfer and coach hadn't felt confident about much of the day's performance. While he had four birdies after 16 holes, he countered that with four bogeys.

One of the birdies came on the 16th hole, and as he sunk that 12-foot putt to even the round's score, he vowed to finish strong, figure out a tweak to improve Sunday's outing and hope for a top-10 finish in front of a home crowd.

"That would be really good considering how I've been playing all week," Funk said. "Making a lot of mistakes. Making a lot of birdies, but making a lot of mistakes."

He accomplished the first part.

On the 17th, he struck the ball 215 yards. He joked that while every player aims for the hole, often the safest place for someone to be standing is at the pin because such accuracy is so rare.

After it took a bounce and rolled in for his fourth hole-in-one on the PGA Tour Champions — Funk estimates he's made 13 or 14 during his professional career — Funk received a high-five from his caddy and groupmates Duffy Waldorf and Joey Sindelar.

Funk used the ball again to birdie on the par-4 18th. Afterward, he signed it and his caddy gave it to Brandon Hinderer of York, Pa., one of the volunteers who was following the group during his strong final stretch.

"I needed it," Funk said. "You always need it, but that was pretty cool."

Pavin keeping pace

Corey Pavin began the third round of the Senior Players Championship one shot behind Bernhard Langer.

The 57-year-old journeyman, chasing his first PGA Tour Champions major, was keeping pace with a player who owns the second most Champion wins ever.

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While Pavin was happy with his outing Saturday — he shot 1-under to improve to 12-under through three days — that margin widened as Langer and Brandt Jobe highlighted the lead grouping.

He'll tee off the final round at 1:40 p.m. on Sunday, tied for third with Scott McCarron.

"I played fine today," Pavin said. "I was happy with the way I played. I just hit one bad shot on that last hole, so other than that, I felt like I played pretty decently."

That poor swing came on the par-4 18th, when he pushed his tee shot into a creek. After a shot from the rough and then from the fairway, he needed two putts on the green to cap the double-bogey.

Meanwhile, Langer, who leads at 18-under, and Jobe, one stroke behind, made par on the hole to push Pavin further from the top of the standings.

"I'm just out there playing my own game and playing the best I can," Pavin said. "I can't control what they do out there. I can only control what I do."

Pavin had four birdies and a bogey on the front nine before shooting par until his final setback.

"I left a couple putts short, even though they were longer putts," he said. "If I make a couple of those, I'm in better shape, but that's golf. I did the best I could."

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