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The Iron Man

Dana Quigley, an unsuccessful journeyman on the PGA Tour, has played in more than 200 consecutive events on the Champions Tour
Jeff Williams
From the Print Edition:
Cuban Models, May/June 03

(continued from page 2)

While he hasn't won one of the senior majors, he has been in the top 10 on the Champions Tour money list for each of the last five years and, except for 1999, has captured at least one title every year. "What I like about Dana's game is that he doesn't try to change it," says fellow tour player and cigar smoker John Jacobs. "He's got a swing that works and he doesn't fool around with it, he doesn't try to hit shots he can't hit. When you play as well as he does, you don't have to be fooling around with anything, and he's smart enough not to do it."

Quigley's swing isn't one honed on the driving range. He doesn't beat balls for a couple of hours every day or spend an hour on the putting green. Instead, he plays golf. Every day. "I love to play, so why wouldn't I want to keep playing," says Quigley. "I've got lots of friends still in Florida and I like to play with them. I like to play with my wife. If we're traveling, that's on a Monday, and on Tuesday I have a regular practice-round game with Allen Doyle and Ed Dougherty. Sometimes Jim Thorpe plays with us, maybe Bruce Summerhays. We play for two-dollar birdies and keep track for the year. I made a killing last year. I think I was up 40 birdies on Doyle, and beat Dougherty on a couple of different bets."

If there's a casino nearby, it's a good bet you can find Quigley there, along with Dougherty and Thorpe, rimming a craps table. "Hey, babe, it's the only game," says Quigley. "I might play a little blackjack if the craps table isn't treating me well. It's a good way to pass the time, you know. I haven't won or lost all that much. Certainly haven't lost what I couldn't afford to."

Of course, he can afford to lose a little more these days. Before his flush days on the Champions Tour, he was living in a small condo in West Palm Beach. After his first victory, and the $150,000 prize money, he bought a proper house, at the Bear Lakes Country Club in Palm Beach. That, he left up to Angie. In fact, he leaves about everything up to Angie. "She writes all the checks, makes all the reservations, takes care of all the investments, the house -- everything," said Quigley, who didn't have the time to look for a new house as he played tournament after tournament on the Champions Tour. "She found the house, got the financing, closed on it, furnished it. The first time I saw it was after we already owned it. We're a great team that way. I play golf, she does everything else, and she loves it. I'd have to give her an awful lot of credit for my success."

Quigley became a cigar smoker in 1997. He is a member of Team Te-Amo on the Champions Tour and still remembers vividly and a bit wistfully the kindness of the late Larry Gilbert, who had been an original member of Team Te-Amo. "I remember asking him if I could get a couple of cigars," says Quigley. "The next day there was a box of cigars in my locker. I just thought that was such a great thing. And I think it was another one of those things that told me I belonged out here. Now I get free cigars. How good is that?"

Those free cigars pay tribute to his first victory. The wrappers are labeled: Dana Quigley, 1997 Northville Long Island Champion. An homage to the best day, and worst day, of his life. His success still leaves him wide-eyed. While someone like a Jim Albus could have predicted that Quigley would win, Quigley wasn't all that sure himself. "There's no way I could have predicted what I've been able to do out here," Quigley says with a genuine incredulity. "C'mon. I didn't do anything on the regular Tour, and Tour golf is different from winning club pro tournaments and state opens. I thought I could make some cash. If I got lucky, I might win. I really couldn't have dreamed this, so now that I'm living it, it seems like a dream now."

Seldom does an athlete, having failed in the prime years of his life to make it big as a pro, get the second chance much later in life. That's what the Champions Tour gave to Dana Quigley. He had a new wife, a new attitude and the clarity of sobriety. What he brought along from his previous life was a swing that was as much a part of his body as his arms and legs, and a love of the game that would not die. "It's been something, I'll tell you that," says Quigley, and there isn't anyone who would dispute it.

 

Jeff Williams is a sportswriter for Newsday on Long Island.


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