Ironman Quigley through 250 senior events
Meet Dana Quigley, also known as the Cal Ripken of senior golfers.
Ripken became baseball's ironman. Quigley, 57, is the ironman of the geriatric crowd.
He has not missed a Champions Tour event in nearly seven years.
"I won my first tournament out here on August 10th, 1997," Quigley said. "Bruce Summerhays was the ironman on the tour then. He had played 96 straight weeks. I said, 'Bruce, I'll be getting your record.'"
Actually, the previous record was 177 consecutive eligible events, set by Mike McCullough.
Quigley has obliterated that mark either way you care to count.
When he tees off Thursday in the U.S. Senior Open at Bellerive, he will play in his 252nd straight event for which he is eligible. It also will be the 238th straight week on tour for Quigley. The difference in the streaks came when he failed to qualify for a Champions Tour event.
Either way, that's a lot of competitive golf for anyone, much less an over-50 relic.
Quigley has several explanations for becoming a geriatric ironman. The first?
"I'm weird," he said.
That brought chuckles from his peers on the driving range, where Quigley had sashayed Tuesday afternoon after a relaxing practice lap around Bellerive.
He had another good reason to start panning for every possible payday.
"I was dead broke when I came out here," Quigley said. "I did it for the money, more than the streak. I was dead-busted."
But he isn't now.
"No, I'm not," he cheerfully agreed. "I'm in good shape. My ex-wife's in good shape. She's in better shape financially than a lot of the guys out here."
Quigley can afford to joke. He has won $819,000 this year, eighth on the money list, and just under $10 million for his seven years on the Champions (formerly called Senior) Tour. He has won eight times, most recently last year.
So why not take the odd week off?
"I can tell you that it's not a big deal," he said. "I was a country club pro for 15 years, and I played every day of my life then. And I play more now in the offseason, by far, than I do during the season."
Quigley, a Rhode Island native, lives in West Palm Beach, Fla.
"I play 36 to 54 holes a day, easy, in the offseason," he said. "Of course, that's with a cart. I just fly around."
That might explain why he doesn't mind flying around every week in airborne carts.
Not only was Quigley a rare American to trek to Northern Ireland last week for the Senior British Open, which ended Sunday, he turned up at Bellerive ready for work on Monday morning. Not only was he on the course, he played a full practice round with Allen Doyle, Ed Dougherty and Paul Parajeckas.
Not only did Quigley play, he wasn't the least bit cranky from jet lag. Chewing on a stogie, he joked with his partners, chatted up volunteers and signed autographs.
"Jet lag?" Quigley scoffed. "No jet lag. We left Ireland on Sunday in a private plane. We just drove to Belfast and got on a Gulfstream Four. It was expensive. But 8 1/2 hours later, we got here at 9:30 Sunday night."
Quigley started off caddying at the Rhode Island Country Club and later golfed for the University of Rhode Island. He is proud to point out the golfing heritage from his tiny home state.
"My nephew, Brett, tied for second last week in Milwaukee at the (PGA Tour) U.S. Bank Tournament," Quigley said.
Patrick Sheehan and Billy Andrade tied for fourth. They're also from Rhode Island.
"I think we had another guy in the Top 10, too. And my brother Paul - Brett's dad - caddies for Brad Faxon. And he's caddying for me this week."
On cue, Paul started to rib his much taller brother about procrastinating at the practice tee.
"That's it," Paul cooed. "Just visualize the ball going out there. That's all you need."
Dana laughed and said, "He's my arch-nemesis. No, really, we've been best friends forever. I think you're better off with a friend out here than a caddie, although it's helpful if the caddie is your friend. But I haven't found a caddie yet who stood over a three-footer and knocked it in."
What about finding a pro golfer, of any age, to break his ironman streak?
"This record will never be touched," Quigley said. "Not on this tour. Probably not on the PGA Tour, either. No. 1, those kids don't need the money. And No. 2, they've been taught they need a break every five or six weeks.
"My nephew has the most beautiful swing you'd ever want to see. He's 35, and he'd never play more than five weeks in a row."
But that's not the best reason to believe that his ironman mark will stand forever.
"Nobody else," Quigley said, "is goofy enough to do it."
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