Originally created 05/08/02

If there's a tournament, Quigley will be there



When the Senior PGA Tour asked Dana Quigley for some biographical information, he listed baseball, hockey, sports, planes and boats as interests.

That's a little misleading.

His true interests: golf, golf and golf.

When he's not on the Senior PGA Tour, where Quigley has played in a record 178 consecutive tournaments, he can be found playing marathon golf with his son, playing casual golf with friends, playing corporate golf for easy cash, playing golf to raise money for charities, and sometimes playing golf by himself because he can't get enough.

"I'm a freak," he said. "There's no question about it."

What's to question?

Two years ago he went home to Rhode Island to see his two children in December and didn't play for five days because of the snow.

"That was my last Christmas in Rhode Island," Quigley said. "Now they spend Christmas with their mother, then fly down to Florida and spend time with me."

The senior tour takes a break during the Masters.

The 55-year-old Quigley doesn't.

"My son flew down from Rhode Island that week," Quigley said, "and you can't believe the golf we played."

He and 17-year-old Devon played 36 holes Monday, 45 holes Tuesday, 43 holes Wednesday, and 54 holes Thursday. Bruce Lietzke didn't play that much in three months.

As a head professional for 15 years in Rehoboth, Mass., Quigley arrived at dawn every day and played Crestwood Country Club until it opened at 8 a.m. If he had a 30-minute gap in his teaching schedule, he would find an open hole and play it. At the end of the day, he played with his assistants until they could no longer see.

Quigley's passion for golf landed him in the record books last week.

He lost in a playoff to Sammy Rachels at the Bruno's Memorial Classic, where Quigley teed it up for the 178th consecutive Senior PGA Tour event for which he was eligible, breaking the mark held by Mike McCullough.

The streak dates to the 1997 BankBoston Classic, which gave him a sponsor's exemption. The next week, he went through Monday qualifying to get into the Long Island Classic, then won in a playoff for his first of six senior victories.

What do his peers think about this ironman schedule?

"They all think I'm nuts," Quigley said. "But they've finally figured out that this is what I am. It's not something I force myself to do, or I have to do to live up to my reputation. They understand that I truly enjoy playing golf.

"Here's the whole scenario: I'm playing the game I love, and I'm succeeding at it. Why take any time away from this?"

During his streak, Quigley has played 538 official rounds in 39,753 strokes for an average score of 73.9. He passed another milestone at the Bruno's Memorial, going over $7 million in career earnings on the senior tour.

"That still makes the hair on my arm stand up," Quigley said. "Every week, I might be the most surprised guy in the tournament. It's been an unbelievable voyage."

It wasn't like that on the PGA Tour, where Quigley played primarily from 1979-82 and picked up his biggest paycheck - $8,400 - from a tie for ninth in Hartford.

His greatest success came at home. Quigley won the Rhode Island Open six times, the Massachusetts Open three years in a row (1982-84), the Vermont Open twice and the New England PGA Section Championship five times.

"I figured I was a big fish in a small pond," he said.

Only when some Boston writers asked him about the senior tour did he even consider that life could begin at 50. He decided to try it, won the eighth tournament he played and hasn't slowed down since.

Oh, there were a few anxious moments.

The closest he came to skipping a tournament was when Quigley fired his longtime caddie and was down in the dumps. Sports psychologist Bob Rotella recommended a week off, and made Quigley promise he would stay home that week.

"On Tuesday, I started to get the itch," Quigley said. "On Wednesday, I was going nuts. I flew to Indianapolis that night."

Three years ago, daughter Nicole was graduating from high school on a Friday night when Quigley was playing in Nashville. He chartered a plane for $7,500, flew to Rhode Island for graduation and returned to the BellSouth Senior Classic, where he tied for eighth.

"That was a close one," he said.

The only close call with his health came two years ago when Quigley was trying to catch Raymond Floyd at the Senior Players Championship. He took a big swing out of a hazard and pulled a muscle in his calf.

"I could barely walk up the 18th green," he said. "I shouldn't have played the next week, but the guys in the (fitness) trailer worked on me and ... ."

You know the rest.

"If there's a tournament, I'll be there," Quigley said. "Are you kidding?"