Quigley Bests Big Names on Champions

By Sports NetworkDecember 14, 2005, 5:00 pm
Champions TourIn years past, one player has seemed to dominate the Champions Tour. Hale Irwin has done it more times than can be counted. Craig Stadler coasted through the second half of last season.
 
This year is different. Irwin won four times, the most on the elder circuit. Dana Quigley captured two victories and the money title. Tom Watson won another major, the Senior British Open, and with a win at the Charles Schwab Cup Championship, walked off with the $1 million annuity.
 
So who gets the honor?
 
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Dana Quigley
Dana Quigley won twice and topped the tour's money list in 2005.
Ironic that in the year that Dana Quigley's 'Iron Man' streak ended on the Champions Tour, he is that circuit's Players of the Year. Due to a hip injury and some flight logistics that just did not work in his favor, Quigley skipped the Senior British Open and that was the only major championship he did not finish in the top 10.

Quigley tied for fifth place at the Ford Senior Players Championship and shared ninth at the U.S. Senior Open. That would be a good year in the majors by itself, but it was his play in the other two that gave him the nod.
 
At the Senior PGA Championship, Quigley, Jerry Pate and Mike Reid headed to the 18th hole for a playoff. Reid holed a birdie putt on the first playoff hole to hoist the hardware, but Quigley was very much in the hunt.
 
The final major of the year, the JELD-WEN Tradition, came down to another extra session, this time between Quigley and Champions Tour rookie, Loren Roberts. Quigley struggled on the second playoff hole and Roberts only needed a bogey to win the title.
 
Despite failing to win one of the five major titles, Quigley's four top-10s and two playoff losses stand as the best major championship record.
 
One would think that two playoff losses would hurt his record in sudden death, but that was not the case in 2005. He captured the season-opening MasterCard Championship when he topped Watson in a playoff. A few months later, Quigley once again beat Watson and Gil Morgan in extra holes at the Bayer Advantage Classic.
 
All totaled, Quigley collected two wins, five runners-up and 15 top-10s in 22 starts. Only four times in his 22 starts did Quigley miss the top 30.
 
Since he plays every week (well...all but one), Quigley was certainly going to be a factor in the money title race. He finally won that honor with $2,170,258, but had his sights set on another title.
 
Quigley led the year-long Charles Schwab Cup points race for 17 weeks heading into the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup. Watson won that title, and thanks to points being tripled, captured the $1 million annuity right from under Quigley's nose.
 
Either way, Quigley had the consistently strongest season of anyone on tour. Did he win the most? No. Did he get a tax-free $1 million? No. But neither Irwin, nor Watson could boast as complete a season as Quigley in 2005.
 
TOURNAMENT OF THE YEAR
The Senior PGA Championship. Let's pick up the action at the 72nd hole on Sunday.
 
Jerry Pate, the 1976 U.S. Open champion who was, and remains, winless on the Champions Tour, held the lead at the par-5 closing hole at Laurel Valley Golf Club.
 
Pate was one clear of Quigley, who was in the clubhouse, and three ahead of playing partner, Mike Reid, a journeyman best known at that point for amazing fairway accuracy and coughing up the 1989 PGA Championship to Payne Stewart.
 
Reid hit his second to 25 feet at the last, then Pate made the most puzzling decision of the season. He had 190 yards to the flag, but on the advice of his caddy, decided to lay up short of the water. Pate's third landed 30 feet past the flag and his birdie putt stopped three feet short of the cup.
 
Reid drained his eagle putt to match Quigley at 8 under par. Pate's par putt for the victory missed right and off to a playoff we go.
 
Pate must have been still rattled because he hooked his tee shot into the woods at 18, the first playoff hole. He had to lay up with his second, while Quigley and Reid both found the short grass off the tee.
 
Reid hit his second to 25 feet again at 18, but Quigley had to get out the scuba gear because his approach landed in the water. Pate knocked his third to 7 feet.
 
When Reid lagged his eagle try to tap-in range and converted the short birdie putt, Quigley was headed back to the clubhouse. Pate needed to make his 7-footer. He did not and Reid, three down on the last tee in regulation, picked up his first Champions Tour major.
 
SHOT OF THE YEAR
Tom Watson's 25-foot birdie putt at the 72nd hole of the Charles Schwab Cup Championship.
 
Tom Watson
Tom Watson reacts to his winning putt at the Charles Schwab Cup Championship.
With all due respect to Reid's awesome approaches at 18 in the Senior PGA Championship, Watson's putt impacted so many different things on the Champions Tour.
 
The birdie putt was the margin of difference between Watson and Jay Haas in the tournament. The win gave Watson triple points in the year-long Charles Schwab Cup points race. The triple points vaulted Watson past Quigley for the title. The title gave Watson a $1 million annuity.
 
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
This race came down to quantity versus quality. Jay Haas, who despite playing on the tour last season, was still considered a rookie, won twice at the end of the year.
 
Loren Roberts, who will serve as one of Tom Lehman's assistants at next year's Ryder Cup, won only once on the 50-and-over circuit, but it was a biggie. Roberts captured the JELD-WEN Tradition, a major, and had an awesome record in the three majors he played on the Champions Tour.
 
He took fifth at the Senior British Open, tied for second at the U.S. Senior Open and won The Tradition. Haas played in every major but the Senior British and missed the cut at the Senior PGA Championship. His best finish in the other three - a tie for 18th at the Senior Players Championship.
 
That means Roberts played better when it counted and that's enough.
 
GOOD YEAR
Hale Irwin - Four wins and at the age of 60. In the hunt for Player of the Year, but ultimately Quigley was more impressive. Showing little signs of letdown.
 
Mark McNulty - Two wins, third on the money list and third on the Charles Schwab Cup. Consistently one of the top-5 players on this circuit.
 
Des Smyth - Two wins in 2005 and typifies one of the strongest types of Champions Tour player. Strong, though not spectacular his whole career on some other tour beside the PGA Tour, than really solid on the Champions Tour.
 
Morris Hatalsky - Although winless, he still finished eighth on the money list. That was second to Gil Morgan for most earned without a trip to the winner's circle. Led the tour in putting and for a two-time former winner, proved to be a consistent threat.
 
Greg Norman - Played only twice to various ailments and a lack of interest, but took a third and a fourth in two majors. Won't play much, but will be a factor when he realizes how competitive the Champions Tour is.
 
BAD YEAR
Craig Stadler - Posted 14 top-10s, came in third in scoring average and finished ninth on the money list. But how can a man who won six times last year, fail to break through in 2005?
 
Tom Kite - Speaking of winless, anyone notice Kite did not pick up a trophy all year?
 
Jerry Pate - Earned his spot on this list for that horrid decision at the Senior PGA Championship. He's been close since joining the tour, but has yet to win.
 
Fuzzy Zoeller, Curtis Strange, Ben Crenshaw and Lanny Wadkins - This quartet of PGA Tour stars from the 80s is done. Look for them on VH1's 'I Love the 80s, Part 11' soon.

Related Links:
  • The Year in Review
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    Stock Watch: Spieth searching for putting form

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 16, 2018, 1:50 pm

    Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

    RISING

    Patton Kizzire (+8%): By today’s accelerated standards, he’s a late bloomer, having reached the Tour at age 29. Well, he seems right at home now, with two wins in his last four starts.

    Rory (+7%): Coming off the longest break of his career, McIlroy should have no excuses this year. He’s healthy. Focused. Motivated. It’s go time.

    Chris Paisley (+5%): The best part about his breakthrough European Tour title that netted him $192,000? With his wife, Keri, on the bag, he doesn’t have to cut 10 percent to his caddie – she gets the whole thing.

    Brooke Henderson (+3%): A seventh-place finish at the Diamond Resorts Invitational doesn’t sound like much for a five-time winner, but this came against the men – on a cold, wet, windy, 6,700-yard track. She might be the most fun player to watch on the LPGA. 

    New European Ryder Cuppers (+2%): In something of a Ryder Cup dress rehearsal, newcomers Tommy Fleetwood and Tyrrell Hatton each went undefeated in leading Europe to a come-from-behind victory at the EurAsia Cup. The competition come September will be, um, a bit stiffer.



    FALLING

    Jordan’s putting (-1%): You can sense his frustration in interviews, and why not? In two starts he leads the Tour in greens in regulation … and ranks 201st (!) in putting. Here’s guessing he doesn’t finish the year there.

    Brian Harman’s 2018 Sundays (-2%): The diminutive left-hander now has five consecutive top-10s, and he’s rocketing up the Ryder Cup standings, but you can’t help but wonder how much better the start to his year might have been. In the final pairing each of the past two weeks, he’s a combined 1 under in those rounds and wasn’t much of a factor.

    Tom Hoge (-3%): Leading by one and on the brink of a life-changing victory – he hadn’t been able to keep his card each of the past three years – Hoge made an absolute mess of the 16th, taking double bogey despite having just 156 yards for his approach. At least now he’s on track to make the playoffs for the first time.

    Predicting James Hahn’s form (-4%): OK, we give up: He’d gone 17 events without a top-15 before his win at Riviera; 12 before his win at Quail Hollow; and seven before he lost on the sixth playoff hole at Waialae. The margins between mediocre play and winning apparently are THAT small.

    Barnrat (-5%): Coming in hot with four consecutive top-10s, and one of only two team members ranked inside the top 50 in the world, Kiradech Aphibarnrat didn’t show up at the EurAsia Cup, going 0-3 for the week. In hindsight, the Asian team had no chance without his contributions. 

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    Langer not playing to pass Irwin, but he just might

    By Tim RosaforteJanuary 16, 2018, 1:40 pm

    Bernhard Langer goes back out on tour this week to chase down more than Hale Irwin’s PGA Tour Champions record of 45 career victories. His chase is against himself.

    “I’m not playing to beat Hale Irwin’s record,” Langer told me before heading to Hawaii to defend his title at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai. “I play golf to play the best I can, to be a good role model, and to enjoy a few more years that are left.”

    Langer turned 60 on Aug. 27 and was presented a massage chair by his family as a birthday gift. Instead of reclining (which he does to watch golf and football), he won three more times to close out a seven-win campaign that included three major championships. A year prior, coming off a four-victory season, Langer told me after winning his fourth Charles Schwab Cup that surpassing Irwin’s record was possible but not probable. With 36 career victories and 11 in his last two years, he has changed his tone to making up the nine-tournament difference as “probable.”

    “If I could continue a few more years on that ratio, I could get close or pass him,” Langer told me from his home in Boca Raton, Fla. “It will get harder. I’m 60 now. It’s a big challenge but I don’t shy away from challenges.”


    Bernhard Langer, Hale Irwin at the 1991 Ryder Cup (Getty Images)


    Langer spent his off-season playing the PNC Father/Son, taking his family on a ski vacation at Big Sky in Yellowstone, Montana, and to New York for New Year’s. He ranks himself as a scratch skier, having skied since he was four years old in Germany. The risk of injury is worth it, considering how much he loves “the scenery, the gravity and the speed.”

    Since returning from New York, Langer has immersed himself into preparing for the 2018 season. Swing coach Willy Hoffman, who he has worked with since his boyhood days as an as assistant pro in Germany, flew to Florida for their 43rd year of training.

    “He’s a straight shooter,” Hoffman told me. “He says, 'Willy, every hour is an hour off my life and we have 24 hours every day.'"

    As for Irwin, they have maintained a respectful relationship that goes back to their deciding singles match in the 1991 Ryder Cup. Last year they were brought back to Kiawah Island for a corporate appearance where they reminisced and shared the thought that nobody should ever have to bear what Langer went through, missing a 6-footer on the 18th green. That was 27 years ago. Both are in the Hall of Fame.

    "I enjoy hanging out with Hale," Langer says.

    Langer’s chase of Irwin’s record is not going to change their legacies. As Hoffman pointed out, “Yes, (Bernhard) is a rich man compared to his younger days. He had no money, no nothing. But today you don’t feel a difference when you talk to him. He’s always on the ground.”

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    McIlroy: Ryder Cup won't be as easy as USA thinks

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 16, 2018, 1:18 pm

    The Americans have won their past two international team competitions by a combined score of 38-22, but Rory McIlroy isn’t expecting another pushover at the Ryder Cup in September.

    McIlroy admitted that the U.S. team will be strong, and that its core of young players (including Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler) will be a force for the next decade. But he told reporters Tuesday at the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship that course setup will play a significant role.

    “If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said, referring to the Americans’ 17-11 victory in 2016. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

    At every Ryder Cup, the home team has the final say on course setup. Justin Rose was the most outspoken about the setup at Hazeltine, saying afterward that it was “incredibly weak” and had a “pro-am feel.” 

    And so this year’s French Open figures to be a popular stop for European Tour players – it’s being held once again at Le Golf National, site of the matches in September. Tommy Fleetwood won last year’s event at 12 under.

    “I’m confident,” McIlroy said. “Everything being all well and good, I’ll be on that team and I feel like we’ll have a really good chance.

    “The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that. The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.” 

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    Floodlights may be used at Dubai Desert Classic

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 16, 2018, 12:44 pm

    No round at next week’s Dubai Desert Classic will be suspended because of darkness.

    Tournament officials have installed state-of-the-art floodlighting around the ninth and 18th greens to ensure that all 132 players can finish their round.

    With the event being moved up a week in the schedule, the European Tour was initially concerned about the amount of daylight and trimmed the field to 126 players. Playing under the lights fixed that dilemma.

    “This is a wonderful idea and fits perfectly with our desire to bring innovation to our sport,” European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley said. “No professional golfer ever wants to come back the following morning to complete a round due to lack of daylight, and this intervention, should it be required, will rule out that necessity.”

    Next week’s headliners include Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson.