Staying in the game: Sports pros share their stories of struggle at Boeing Classic

The TPC Snoqualmie Ridge Golf Course hosted the Boeing Classic last week, bringing professional athletes and fans together again for a week of events and activities, culminating in Sunday’s win by Billy Andrade, with a score of 73, the highest final round score recorded for a Boeing Classic champion.

Pro golfer Fred Funk

Pro golfer Fred Funk

The TPC Snoqualmie Ridge Golf Course hosted the Boeing Classic last week, bringing professional athletes and fans together again for a week of events and activities, culminating in Sunday’s win by Billy Andrade, with a score of 73, the highest final round score recorded for a Boeing Classic champion.

Three athletes at the Boeing Classic this year, two golfers and an NFL wide receiver, shared something in common; they each overcame significant injuries  to continue to do what they loved. Professional golfers Fred Funk and Hal Sutton, and former Seahawks wide receiver, Sidney Rice,  shared their stories with the Record.

Rice was very open as to why he retired from professional football in 2014. His concern for his health in the future lead him to pursue different goals and help spread awareness about treating injuries and chronic pain.

“I had quite a few injuries over my career, micro-fracture on my hip, torn ACL, broken wrist, broken fingers.  I think the biggest thing for me was the concussions,” Rice said. “Even though I’m still functioning well, seeing the stories of Tony Dorsett and Herschel Walker, these guys who played multiple years in the NFL, had multiple concussions, and now can’t even remember how to get to their house, that played a huge role.”

Funk and Sutton have  experienced the same pains from overwork.

“I love the game and I like to compete so you forge on,” Sutton said. “I tried to play for a couple of years before I had (my hips) replaced, but they were so arthritic and they hurt so bad.”

Funk was put out of commission by his knee. He couldn’t play golf at all until his knee was replaced.

“I got a new knee in ‘09 and it gave me my career back. I had no chance of playing golf or doing anything without getting a knee replacement,” Funk said.

The relearning process was important for both players. Going through a process like this forced them to examine everything they did and train their bodies to get back to their usual level of activity.

“I did get them fixed and it’s taken me a couple years to get all the bad habits out from when I was hurting.” Sutton said. “It’s been a long process. Understanding your body and knowing what to do is pretty important.”

The balancing act was trying to stay healthy while improve their games. Recognizing how age is affecting them is an important skill as well.

“You are always learning, learn about yourself, learn about the game, learning how to deal with the highs and the lows which is always difficult,” Funk said. “So it’s always a balancing act as your body changes and your swing changes.”

Rice says people suffering from chronic pains, even if not caused by an injury, should go get checked out and learn what they should do to stay healthy.

“It’s very important for them to go get checked out,” Rice said. “There’s no reason that they should suffer or not be able to do things that they love to do because of their aches and pains.”

Children lined up for a chance to swing the club in their own game of golf Saturday, during Family Day activities.

A 747 flies over the course to start the Boeing Classic Friday morning. More than 80 golfers competed in the PGA tournament over the weekend. Sunday afternoon, Billy Andrade claimed the championship with a final round of 73, and a cumulative score of 207.


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