Consistent Quigley jumps to Classic front

5-under second round puts him in tie with O'Connor, Thompson

Golf

July 09, 2000|By Don Markus | Don Markus,SUN STAFF

Dana Quigley looks at the Senior PGA Tour as a party, and he as its guest of honor. After three years and 111 straight tournaments, he still has the same smile and plays with the same New England vigor.

One more thing: Quigley has yet to turn out the lights.

The 53-year-old former club pro, who has played in every event for which he qualified and went into the $1.35 million State Farm Senior Classic having played 97 straight tournament weeks, could build on his impressive reputation for durability today.

Going into the final round at the Hobbit's Glen Golf Course in Columbia at 8-under-par 136 after a 5-under 67 in yesterday's second round, Quigley is tied for the lead with defending champion Christy O'Connor of Ireland and Leonard Thompson.

If he should win his fifth event since joining the Senior Tour in 1997 and second this year, Quigley will have to separate himself from a leader board filled with players far more accomplished and experienced in these circumstances.

Along with O'Connor, a former European Ryder Cup star, and Thompson, who won three times during his PGA Tour career, Quigley is being chased by a group of players who have won some of the biggest tournaments in the world.

Among the four players tied at 6-under 138 are Larry Nelson and Hubert Green, both of whom won the U.S. Open and PGA Championship during their careers on the PGA Tour. They are tied with Walter Hall and Jim Albus, who chipped in for eagle 3 on the final hole to win the 36-hole Super Seniors competition.

Lee Trevino, whose six regular tour major championships include a pair of U.S. Opens, PGA Championships and back-to-back British Opens, is three shots behind at 5-under, tied with former PGA Tour player George Burns and first-round leader Jose Marie Canizares of Spain, who struggled with a 3-over 75.

"I used to be intimidated by those [big-name] guys; I used to give up two or three shots before I started," said Quigley, who finished sixth and seventh in earnings the past two years and is currently ranked fourth on this year's Senior Tour money list with $1,008,390. "Now I seem to play better with the top players."

Just as he did three years ago, when he won his first tournament after having to qualify for it, Quigley came out of nowhere yesterday.

Starting the round at 3-under and five shots behind Canizares, Quigley found himself in the lead after making his fourth birdie by chipping in from 15 feet with a bladed sand wedge from the fringe on the par-3 eighth hole.

"I didn't feel like I was leading the tournament," he said later. "I expected Christy or Canizares to bust out and get it to double digits [under par]. I didn't feel the pressure of the lead."

Nor does he think he will feel it today, though admittedly the type of low-ball hitter he is and the fact that he plays with a high compression golf ball could become a factor if the greens become even faster than they have been during the first two rounds.

"The greens are not conducive to my game," he said. "I didn't play a tremendous round of golf, but I don't think I can on this course. I've been on my knees to shoot a good score."

Quigley doesn't remember the last time he didn't play golf on a day in which it didn't rain or snow. He bought a house in West Palm Beach, Fla., last year and has spent only one week there - during the PGA Seniors Championship earlier in the season. He won't be back until November.

Asked if he ever gets tired of playing, Quigley looked incredulous.

"Tired of what?" he said. "Every day when I get up I'm ready to rap it. I really love competition. I don't see myself getting tired. I've been a golf junkie all my life. I don't see it ending."

Quigley should get plenty of competition today.

"A lot of us are barking up the same tree," said O'Connor, who'll be looking for his third Senior Tour victory.

Trying to ruin Quigley's party, the one with the lights still burning brightly.

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