Quinn contemplating trying for PGA Tour card | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Quinn contemplating trying for PGA Tour card

Steve Yingling, Tribune Sports Editor

Before the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship, the media focused on the possibility that it was Rick Rhoden’s final tournament here.

The 49-year-old Rhoden had announced that he would attempt to qualify for the Senior PGA Tour in October and November.

But the championship may lose more than its five-time winner. Dan Quinn, who won the title for the third time on Sunday, hasn’t decided whether he will try to become the first Celebrity Players Tour member to qualify for the PGA Tour.

“I don’t know if I’m good enough, but we’ll see,” said Quinn after firing his third consecutive round of 1-under 71 to beat Rhoden by two strokes Sunday at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course. “A lot of times I think I can, a lot of times I think I can’t.”

Neither player will be eligible for next year’s tournament if they earn a tour playing card.

Although he was never really threatened on Sunday, Quinn didn’t think his play was PGA Tour or Buy.com Tour caliber.

“I really should have gotten to double digits,” he said. “To shoot 37 on the back nine the last two days, if those are 34s, I’m at 9- or 10-under. It’s easy to shoot 34 on that back nine.”

Five holes into his final round, it looked as if Quinn would break the course and tournament single-round records.

He was playing like a PGA member.

His middle-of-the-fairway drives were 50 yards longer than Jack Wagner’s, his iron shots were attracted to the pin like magnets and his birdie putts were struck with such precision and accuracy that they would have fallen into a thimble.

“The first part of my round was sort of blurry. It was like I was in a zone-type thing,” Quinn said. “I hit all good shots and I didn’t make any mistakes.”

The only mistake he made on the first five holes was missing a 4-foot birdie try on No. 1.

Then Quinn applied the hammer to Rhoden and Wagner. He birdied from inside a foot on No. 12, rolled in a 10-foot uphill birdie on No. 3, reached the par-4 fourth in two and two-putted for his third birdie and hit an 8-iron within 5 feet on No. 5 for birdie.

When the damage was done, Quinn was 6-under and five shots ahead of Billy Joe Tolliver and Ivan Lendl and six ahead of Rhoden. Rhoden, who had bogeyed two holes by then, wasn’t ready to give up.

“Golf is 18 holes; it’s 4 1/2 hours, not three or four holes,” Rhoden said. “I expected him to get four or five birdies today. When you look at it like that, maybe he’s going to get them all right away. I expected myself to get four or five birdies.”

After sinking seven of them on Saturday, Rhoden expected his putter to cooperate again on Sunday. What his putter did, however, was take back some of the strokes it gave him during his second-round 68. He three-putted three times and was birdie-less on the front side.

“I just didn’t make anything happen all day,” Rhoden said. “I hit the ball a lot better today, but I just couldn’t make anything go in. I had four bogeys and I was in trouble only one time. I gave away three shots.”

Quinn’s hot streak came to an end at the par-4 sixth hole when he spoiled a perfect drive by hitting his approach into a prison of pine trees. He took his medicine on a downhill lie by chipping onto the green and two-putting for bogey.

With no one making a move, Quinn had the luxury of not forcing shots. However, he did bogey No. 9 when he couldn’t two-putt from the bottom of the green.

Starting the back nine with a three-stroke lead over Tolliver, Quinn kept playing for pars.

“I was sort of prepared for a back-nine battle,” Quinn said. “I kept telling myself, ‘Don’t screw this up.’ I had to really ground myself.”

His only hiccups on the back nine came at No. 13 and No. 17 — one was his fault, while the other was precipitated by a fan yelling during his backswing.

“I feel asleep on the 13th fairway talking about Ernie Els winning the British Open and I got a bogey there, but I came back with a (5-foot) birdie on 15, and that’s where I felt I was all set.”

His bogey on No. 13 was caused by hitting his approach shot into the rough, above the hole. He chipped short and two-putted for the bogey.

Rhoden, who birdied the 12th by rolling in a 20-footer, grazed the cup on a 12-footer on No. 13 that would have cut Quinn’s lead to two.

But Rhoden slipped out of contention on No. 14 when he missed a 1-foot par putt.

“I really don’t know how I could have missed it. It stumped me,” Rhoden said. “I didn’t see what happened because I had my head down. I putted and I reached down to pick it up, and the next thing I saw, it was lipping on down.

“I told Jack, it looked like him on 18 last year, and he said, ‘No, I think mine was a little closer.’ “

Rhoden ran in an 8-footer and Quinn a 5-footer for birdies on No. 15 and each made par on 16, leaving the defending champion with a four-shot edge.

However, the boisterous beachgoers and boaters along the par-3 17th tried to make a tournament of it. Rhoden and Wagner weren’t bothered on their tee shots, but a fan let out an ill-timed yell during Quinn’s tee shot. One of Quinn’s hands came off the club and the ball landed in the front bunker. He glared at the beach mob afterward but didn’t say anything — until after the tournament.

“They were having fun out there, so what are you gonna do?” Quinn said. “Normally, it’s pretty quiet, but maybe they thought the tournament was over. The were yelling, not so much at me. They just got me perfectly, and I just hit it total half skank.”

In the press conference afterward, he was asked if it was the kid who picked up his ball on No. 18 on Saturday.

“I was wondering that,” he said.

Quinn escaped the trap in one and barely missed his 15-foot par putt.

Ahead by three shots at the last tee, Quinn kept his driver in the bag and set up a title-clinching par with a 3-iron tee ball down the left side of the fairway.

Then came the champion’s perks: the trophy presentation, the $100,000 check, excessive handshaking and an impending headache.

“When I get back on the red-eye tomorrow morning in Fort Lauderdale, I’ll probably be a little hung over,” Quinn said.

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