Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and other stars help veteran pro Dana Quigley care for injured son.
Forget your four majors, the Players Championship and all the numbers-crunching gurus who will try and sell you “strength-of-field” data. We have come across what we feel will be the most impressive gathering of 2013.
The fact the public won’t be part of it matters not a bit, because what will take place Feb. 3 at The Floridian Golf & Yacht Club in Palm City, Fla., is a testament to the bottomless well of goodwill that exists in golf. As pro-ams go, the one that Hollis Cavner has helped organize not only will resonate with star power, but it will raise impressive dollars to help Dana Quigley and his former wife, Charlotte, to continue the care for their son, Devon.
Consider who’ll tee it up: Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Lee Trevino, Tom Watson, Raymond Floyd, Ben Crenshaw, Larry Nelson, Nick Price, Steve Elkington, Curtis Strange, Lanny Wadkins, Tom Kite, Dave Stockton, Mark Calcavecchia and Jeff Sluman.
“They keep me posted about the pro-am, and what they’ve done is pretty amazing,” said Quigley, whose passion for golf is legendary. But it’s the love and commitment to Devon that has endeared Dana, Charlotte, and daughter Nicole to the golf community, which is why so many notable names have signed on for the benefit.
Devon Quigley, then 27, was left near death in a car accident Dec. 1, 2011 in Riviera Beach, Fla., and his parents were told how massive was his uphill battle. Fourteen months later, he cannot move or talk, but that is just one aspect to the story. Charlotte brought her son back to his native Rhode Island last August, and together with Devon’s sister, Nicole, they are by his side 24/7.
“They have done a tremendous job, unbelievable,” said Dana Quigley, who travels from West Palm Beach every-other-week to visit his son. “He’s a great kid. He laughs, and he knows what’s going on. We tell stories, and he remembers them.”
But it is not an endeavor that doesn’t come without monumental financial costs. Enter the human equation that sits at the heart of golf.
Cavner, the longtime tournament director of the hugely successful Champions Tour’s 3M Championship in Minneapolis, didn’t want this to be your typical pro-am, so he suggested two specific guidelines for an invite: You were a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame or had won a major.
Think that narrows the field a bit? Well, imagine that phone call Dana got from his nephew, Brett Quigley.
“He called to tell me he was ready to play, couldn’t wait, and he said Fax (Brad Faxon) was on board, too,” Dana Quigley said. “I had to tell him they couldn’t play, but not to feel bad. I can’t play, either.”
Cavner chuckled at that image — Quigley not eligible for his own pro-am — but the quest to make this a truly special event and one that will raise enormous amounts of money is a grand slam.
It’s no wonder Cavner had to turn away some pros and amateurs. He easily sold out the 18 pro-am groups and what’s more, a dinner the night before will be hosted at Nicklaus’ home. Given that no one is being paid and all the players are paying “their own way in,” Cavner is thrilled to say that the Quigleys will be presented an impressive donation.
Just the thought of it left Quigley choked with emotion.
“Words can’t express my feelings for what they’re doing for Devon,” he said.
A love affair continues
Sadly, there’s a whole generation of players who don’t understand what a guy such as Davis Love understands: The pro-ams that date back to those iconic entertainers, Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, are must-play events.
When he tees it up at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am next week, it will be Love’s 40th combined appearance in these classics. He played recently in his 13th Hope — now called the Humana Challenge — and he’s has missed just once at Pebble Beach since 1986.
Love’s playing partner this time around will be Condoleezza Rice, and it’s hard to imagine that that won’t result in an unforgettable experience for Love.
That’s the thing about these tournaments, the life-changing and life-improving situations that come about because of the amateur partners you team up with. Young players should be directed into these tournaments by their management teams, yet it’s clear that they just don’t buy into them.
Adam Scott has not played the Humana, and he has teed it up just once in the AT&T. Rory McIlroy has yet to play either. Sergio Garcia? Zip for the Humana, only three times at Pebble. Rickie Fowler has played the Humana only once, Pebble Beach twice. Anthony Kim — remember him? — has never played the AT&T, and Tiger Woods has never played the Humana.
On the flip side, cheers to Lee Westwood, who has settled in America and will kick off his 2013 season at the AT&T, and there are other stalwarts who take these things seriously. Phil Mickelson will make it 29 appearances combined in the Humana and AT&T, and Jim Furyk will be at Pebble for the 17th straight time.
A classic turns 90
Raise a glass to a true American original, the incomparable Jack Burke Jr. It was his 90th birthday on Jan. 29 and the fact that he is still around to impart wisdom and reflections is something everyone in the game should feel fortunate about.
The third-oldest of the living members of the World Golf Hall of Fame — Charlie Sifford will be 91 on June 2, Doug Ford 91 on Aug. 6 — Burke was asked the secret to his longevity.
“Not letting things bother me,” said Burke, who in 1956 won the Masters and the PGA.
Burke was the game’s top player that season, but there wasn’t a whole lot of money to be made traveling the PGA Tour circuit, so he walked away and opened Champions Golf Club in Houston with another iconic player from that era, the late, great Jimmy Demaret.
Nearly 60 years later, he remains the heart and soul of one of the country’s great clubs, one that is pure golf.
A proverbial national treasure for his wit, charm, and straight-forwardness, Burke is still in tune with what’s going on in the game and not afraid to tell it as he sees it. He criticized the USGA as “elitists” and for weak leadership and laughs about this fear of anchoring.
“You can’t roll a ball with stiff wrists (and that’s what anchoring is all about),” Burke said. “Bad putters will get worse with the long putter.”
To celebrate his birthday, “We’re not going to have one of those $400-a-plate dinners,” Burke said. Instead, wife Robin will coordinate the fried chicken, his children will be over, and Burke will more than likely hold court. After all, you can learn more about golf and life in 30 minutes with Burke than you ever felt possible. Yet he gives all the credit to the people he’s surrounded himself with.
“A guy wrote to me the other day," Burke said, "and said, ‘Remember, if you see a turtle on top of the fence post, he didn’t get up there by himself.’ "
Mickelson tumbles in ranking
Having stumbled out of the starting blocks at both the Humana Challenge and Farmers Insurance Open, Phil Mickelson has fallen to 22nd in the world ranking, and if he doesn’t stop this slide, he’ll soon have his lowest world standing since he was 25th on Jan. 21, 1996.
Not that Mickelson will ever match the sort of incomparable Official World Golf Ranking stretch that was authored by Woods — he sat No. 1 for 623 weeks; or was it 623 years? it’s so hard to keep track — but give the left-hander high marks for remarkable longevity. The week after he fell to 25th in 1996, Mickelson won the Phoenix Open — his second win in three starts that year — and jumped to 16th.
He had been a fixture inside the top-20 ever since — at least until a pair of weeks late last summer when he fell to 22nd. Mickelson then moved back into the top 20 for the remainder of 2012, but he began the year at 17 and has fallen five spots already.
It might mean very little, at least right now, because Mickelson has been notorious in recent years for looking ragged early, then springing to life. He won at Pebble Beach a year ago after having tied for 49th, missed a cut and tied for 26th in his first three tournaments. The year before, Lefty squandered a chance to win at Torrey and then ran off six pedestrian starts before winning in Houston. 2010? Seven consecutive lackluster tournaments had folks questioning him. Then he won the Masters.
But regardless of how this year and the next few weeks play out, one footnote to Mickelson’s superb career could very well be this: He never did reach No. 1.
True, he started a season ranked No. 2 four times, and he ended it ranked second four times. But it’s unlikely the top spot will ever be his.
• Toughest thing about watching golf coverage on The Golf Channel? Those insufferable ads in which Joe Theismann pitches Super Beta prostate supplement pills. Really, do any of us need to know that Theismann used to wake up several times a night? The bathroom? Nope.
• It’s hard to think of a golfer in the past 25 years who could light up a room quite like Lorena Ochoa. With a simple, “Hola,” she put you at ease and tossed a blanket of warmth. The game misses her badly.
• Watching players hit balls at the range might seem like a worthless endeavor, especially as opposed to watching them on the course. But to observe Louis Oosthuizen, Retief Goosen and Luke Donald in practice mode is time well spent.
• Any list of the most dignified people in golf for the last half-century has to include the name Judy Rankin or it’s simply bogus.
• Heard they are going to “re-launch” The Golf Channel’s “Morning Drive.” Whatever that means, I hope it includes either more heat or less air conditioning because we should’t have to tune in and see Gary Williams bundled in a sweater every morning. It’s Florida, for goodness sakes. And it’s golf. Look the look. Wear a golf shirt.
• Is there anything more disingenuous than ranting about how the ball goes too far and how technology has ruined the game, then stuffing your pockets with money to help today’s manufacturers sell what has always appealed to golfers — the ability to hit it longer and better? Yet there are men who own Hall of Fame plaques doing just that.
• Two-stroke penalty to anyone who mentions bifurcation again. Game doesn’t need it legislated in. End of story.
• Not exactly sure what this says about the present PGA Tour landscape but only two players have made more cuts in a row than Billy Horschel, whose streak is at 14 even though he only had conditional status in 2012.
• Consider this the most baffling of all PGA Tour mysteries: What does Woods have against Riviera?
Trying to keep streak alive
Geoff Ogilvy, next to Woods the most successful player in the short history of the World Golf Championships, is in danger of seeing his stretch of consecutive starts come to an end in these marquee tournaments. Presently ranked 67th, Ogilvy is entered into this week’s Waste Management Phoenix Open and next week’s AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am as he tries to nail down a spot in the 64-player field that will tee it up in the WGC Accenture Match Play Championship Feb. 20-24.
The cutoff to make the field will be Sunday the 10th, at the conclusion of the Northern Trust Open.
Ogilvy has qualified for 18 consecutive of the original three World Golf Championships, his last miss being the 2006 American Express outside of London. Playing the Accenture without Ogilvy would seem awkward; he won his debut in the tournament in 2006, finished second the next year when it moved to Dove Mountain in Marana, Ariz., and triumphed for a second time in 2009.
He added the WGC Cadillac Championship to his resume in 2008 and is the only one other than Woods, who has 16, with at least three wins.
He took chance over money
Curious decision by Adam Hadwin, a talented young Canadian who has demonstrated a lot of game in the few PGA Tour chances he has had the past few years. He seemed to be doing so again this past weekend when after a third-round 69 Sunday morning in the weather-plagued Farmers Insurance Open, Hadwin pushed to 7 under.
But Hadwin, a Monday qualifier, then played 14 holes in 9 over in his afternoon fourth round and when play was suspended, he was 2 over for the tournament. He did not return to finish his round Monday, seemingly choosing to WD and get to Phoenix to try and qualify for this week’s Waste Management Phoenix Open. But Hadwin explained on Twitter that he withdrew Sunday with a sore wrist.
Either way, strange. He was in line for a check in the neighborhood of $12,000 to $14,000 had he finished his Torrey Pines duty and while that’s not going to put you in Mickelson’s tax bracket, it can help pay the bills.
He couldn’t finish the Farmers, but Hadwin, 25, who went to the University of Louisville, did make it to Scottsdale, Ariz., for his Monday qualifier? Guaranteed money rejected, but competing against some 130 other golfers for just three spots into the WMPO accepted?
Curious, especially given that 17 others faced the same dilemma once the tournament stretched into Monday and they chose to stay at the Farmers. Most of those who gave up their WMPO Monday qualifying spot to stay at Torrey Pines finished in the lower third of the field, but they received anywhere from $11,590 (Justin Hicks) to $25,010 (Horschel).
A few others, however, cashed in nicely and probably won’t regret missing the qualifier. Chez Reavie and Nicholas Thompson tied for 21st and earned $61,000 each, while Tag Ridings and Casey Wittenberg were in that group knotted at 15th, good for $94,550.
The biggest winner? Definitely rookie Bob Fritsch, who finished birdie-birdie to earn $146,400, but more than that, he was tied for ninth and thus earned a spot into the WMPO.
Wittenberg appeared primed for a top 10 and WMPO spot, too, at least until he bogeyed 14 and 16 and missed a 5-footer for birdie at the 72nd green to finish one out of the top 10.
As it turns out, Hadwin’s mad dash to Scottsdale was fruitless; he shot 79, which tied for high score of the day of the 109 golfers who turned in cards.
• Charles Howell is perfect: Three starts, three top-10 finishes. He hass piled up $964,000 in that time. A year ago, it took him 17 tournaments to accumulate that much.
• Good news is, Jason Day made the cut in his first start of the season. Bad news is, he hit only 15 of 56 fairways.
• Scott Stallings, Kyle Stanley and Tommy Gainey have each played in all four tournaments, and they’re all entered in Scottsdale. Stanley is struggling, however. He’s 13 over for his 12 rounds.
• Kevin Sutherland is hoping to tee it up in Scottsdale, his first start since Pebble Beach a year ago.
• Straight? Who needs straight? Howell has only hit 40.96 of his fairways.
• David Duval shot 73 and fell well short in a Monday qualifier for the WMPO.