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Fred Funk went from trepidation to jubilation in one year at the Greater Hickory Classic.
Funk held off a charging Duffy Waldorf and birdied his 18th hole of golf on Sunday to claim the 10th Anniversary GHC title at Rock Barn Golf & Spa.
The win comes one year after injuring his left thumb in last year's Greater Hickory Classic in Conover.
That appendage ailment eventually forced Funk to have surgery and endure five months of arduous rehabilitation.
"There are a lot of emotions going on right now," Funk said of his victory. "When I had my knee replaced, assuming I got through the staph infection, I was going to be fine golf-wise. The thumb I thought might be a career ender. I was really worried. To come back, have knocked on the door here numerous times, not pull through and finally pull it out meant a lot."
Funk's chip on No. 18 from 40 yards out landed within a foot of the cup.
After sinking his short putt for birdie, Funk captured his first Champions Tour victory since the Insperity Championships in early May.
Funk immediately embraced caddy Tim Thalmueller with a hug and shared his eighth Champions Tour victory with his wife, Sharon.
"I was nervous â€” ridiculously nervous â€” over that last putt," Funk said. "Thank goodness it went in."
Waldorf finished in second place after carding a field-best 6-under 66 in the final round on Sunday.
His best finish in the 2012 season prior to the Greater Hickory Classic was a tie for 21st place at the True South Classic on July 22 â€” one of his three top-25 finishes this season.
"It was a very exciting tournament," Waldorf said. "I was happy when I got here. I loved the course, and I thought it was going to be a pretty good setup for me. The course was in great shape, and I felt my game had been playing well. I didn't feel like I had my total game this week, so I was happy with the result."
Mark Wiebe, the defending Greater Hickory Classic champion, ended the tournament in third place with a 10-under par score. He was 2-under on the day Sunday.
Five golfers tied for fourth place at 4-under, including Jay Don Blake, John Cook, Peter Senior, Chip Beck and GHC first round leader Dan Forsman.
Bernhard Langer, who won last week's SAS Championships in nearby Cary, finished tied for ninth place at 8-under par. He continues to lead the Charles Schwab Cup standings with 2,250 points.
Tom Lehman finished in a tie for 24th at 3-under for the tournament. Lehman trails Langer by 111 points heading into the Champions Tour's next event â€” the AT&T Championships in San Antonio from Oct. 26-28.
10th Anniversary Greater Hickory Classic results
1. Fred Funk, -15
2. Duffy Waldorf, -14
3. Mark Wiebe, -10
T-4. Jay Don Blake, -9
T-4. John Cook, -9
T-4. Peter Senior, -9
T-4. Dan Forsman, -9
T-4. Chip Beck, -9
T-9. Loren Roberts, -8
T-9. Bernhard Langer, -8
T-9. David Frost, -8