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Dana Quigley may finally take a week off

Dana Quigley said there's a 50-50 chance his record playing streak will end after this week's Senior Players Championship, a major on the Champions Tour. He will be in the field for the 264th consecutive event -- 278th straight when eligible -- extending a streak that started in 1997.

An ailing hip has put Quigley's remarkable run in jeopardy because the next stop on the 50-and-over tour is the British Open, and he's not sure he can endure the seven-hour flight and a four-hour drive to the course.

``This could be it,'' the 58-year-old said Wednesday, a day before the Senior Players started. ``I've already warned everyone in my family. My kids are OK with it, but my wife is really saddened by it. I said, 'Listen. If I'm OK with it, you have to be OK with it.' I realize the streak was going to end sometime.''

Jay Haas didn't seem to believe Quigley was considering not competing in two weeks.

``Ah, he's going to play, don't let him kid you,'' Haas said.

Quigley insists his injury, which started to bother him last month, is serious.

``I'm going to have an MRI in Rhode Island next Thursday because it's much worse than I thought,'' he said. ``I haven't had any pain in eight years, but I think I'm finally breaking down. Sitting is worse than standing, that's why it's 50-50 that I won't go to Scotland.

``I would just like to find out what it is. I have a specialist coming in and according to the guy bringing him here, the guy is a genius.''

Quigley said the smartest move he made was cutting alcohol out of his life 15 years ago. He made $92,298 on the PGA Tour -- playing mostly from 1979-82 -- but has made about $11.5 million on the Champions Tour, and said the decision saved his life and career.

``I probably wouldn't be alive if I kept drinking,'' Quigley said. ``I had two one-car accidents hitting trees, but that didn't bottom me out.

``I went to rehab in 1988. Six months later, I tried to drink a glass of wine with dinner and it all started again. On Feb. 1 of 1990, I was driving home from a course and I was about to a do more drinking, then I said to myself, 'This is nuts,' and I pulled off the road and onto my exit at 65 mph, and I haven't drank since.''

Peter Jacobsen is glad to have Quigley around.

``He's such a breath of fresh air,'' he said. ``He's probably the most fun guy to play with on the Champions Tour because he has proper perspective.

``My recommendation to Dana is, 'The streak is fantastic. But you've got a lot of great golf you can play, so take care of your hip.' After two hip operations and a knee operation, I know how important health is.''

Quigley has prided himself on focusing only on one day at a time, but acknowledged his health problems have changed his mind-set.

``If rest is what I need, I'm going to do it because I'm looking at a long-term plan for the first time,'' he said. ``This newfound success is something I want to continue.''

Quigley is not just a quirky story anymore because he's doing more than just showing up week after week. He leads the Champions Tour money list, with almost $1.3 million, and the Schwab Cup race with a pair of victories, three second-place finishes and eight in the top 10 this year.

The Senior Players is the first of three straight majors, followed by the Senior British Open in two weeks at Royal Aberdeen and the U.S. Senior Open the following week in Kettering, Ohio.

With wide fairways and receptive and true greens, birdies are common at the TPC of Michigan, a Jack Nicklaus-designed course just outside of Detroit.

The average winning score the past seven years has been almost 17 under, though Englishman Mark James won the last year with a 13-under par 275, becoming the first European to win a major on the Champions Tour.

Greg Norman was expected to make his Champions Tour debut at the Senior Players, but he informed tournament officials last week he was not committing to the four-round event.

 

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