It’s time for Dan Quinn to switch hats.
The former NHL star spent the last week caddying for Ernie Els at the U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club, and now he’ll turn his attention to the 24th annual American Century Championship July 16-21 at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course.
Quinn, a five-time winner of the ACC, is the defending champion of the event, but he isn’t favored by the Nevada oddsmakers. That honor goes to Billy Joe Tolliver at 3-1, while Quinn is at 5-1.
“Yeah, I have played a lot, and after the US Open, I will do nothing but (play golf),” Quinn said during a recent conference call. “I have a month of golf, which is more than enough time. I live in Florida, I pretty much play year round other than the weeks I’m with Ernie. We played a bunch last week in preparation to come up here, and I’m looking forward to it, looking forward to defending and getting out there.”
Quinn has been able to defend his title just once and that was 2002.
“You know, I think that’s been the history of the events,” Quinn said. “I don’t know that Rick (Rhoden, MLB pitcher) has ever defended or gone back to back (he did 2008-09). He may have, but it’s just you know, it’s a fun thing to do and all the guys, Jeremy (Roenick) and Steve (Kerr), we all want to play well. You need a lot of things to go well in sports to defend at any level. I think there are a bunch of us that are pretty equal in our abilities to win this thing. You need a lot of things to go your way to win. I’m playing better this year than I was last year, and am looking forward to — after this week’s work at the US Open —to really getting ready for Tahoe.”
And, Edgewood is a course Quinn is comfortable playing on. He’s played in all but one of the events, and truly enjoys his time out there.
“I sort of know everybody that has been out there since the early 90s,” Quinn said. “I think it’s a special place. It’s a great golf course. I really like the golf course and enjoy it. There are a few holes and a few shots that are not as stable so you have to pay attention, but it’s an exciting place. There are a couple of trees in the middle of the fairways you know, and I can only imagine how many feet they have grown in 22 or 23 years. You see your ball rattle around those a few times it’s tough to get out. From what I understand, it was a pretty good spring and things are ahead of schedule as far as the condition of the course. It’s sort of small town appeal that sort of give an alert when you’ve been out there a number of years. You see the same people on the same tees over and over. It’s just a great place.”
Does Edgewood remind you of other courses you have played?
“It’s a mountain course you know with elevation,” Quinn said. “It’s similar to some of the courses I played in Colorado. My first NHL team was Calgary, and there were mountain courses in Banff. When I play here it reminds me of them.”
Quinn, who has caddied in three majors for Els and more than 40 times overall, said that he has learned working for Els.
“How it relates to my game? Really not that much other than to learn,” Quinn said. “There is some technique, but they (pro players) are so much better than all the guys. For the most part, I will pick up things here and there, how they prepare and the mood.”
Els says Quinn has been helpful.
“He’s always remarkably positive,” Els said recently. “He knows what’s going through my mind. He know what to say and when to say it. He also knows when not to say anything. He’s one of the best readers of green I have ever come across.”
Rhoden has won an event-best eight times, followed by Quinn with five, Tolliver with three and soap star Jack Wagner with two. Quinn was asked if it was a goal to catch Rhoden.
“Well, I don’t know how many more years we’re going to have this event, so that is factor,” Quinn said. “I take it one year at a time now. I’ve been fortunate enough to be going out there since 1991, and luck enough to have won it (five times). Last year was kind of cool because it was 20 years from the first time I won it which is a pretty good span to be able to sort of remain relevant.”
Els and Quinn won tournaments on the same day in 2002, which is the only time Quinn has defended.
NOTES: There have been nine different winners in the event. Besides Rhoden, Quinn, Tolliver and Wagner, Mark Rypien (1990), Dick Anderson (1994), Mario Lemieux (1998), Al Del Greco (2000) and Chris Chandler (2007) have each won once. Wagner is the only non-athlete to win the event ... Spectators will be allowed to ask for autographs and shoot photos on Tuesday and Wednesday of tournament week, but not once the tournament has started.