Fran Quinn has suffered more than his share of injuries and near misses as a PGA Tour Champions golfer, but he refuses to let them get him down. In other words, there is no stopping Quinn.
“Without a doubt,” said the 58-year-old Holden resident, “I know and my peers know I can win out there. I feel like I still have a lot of really good golf in me. I know it’s coming to happen as long as I stay healthy. That’s the big thing right now. If I stay healthy the way I am right now and barring something wild, hopefully I can win before the end of the year. That’s really my goal.”
Quinn remains as confident as ever, and his wife Loriwho caddies for him, backs him 100 percent.
“I think it’s kind of amazing,” she said. “I honestly think his tenacity and his persistence and his dedication to his craft is so impressive. It really is, and I’m so proud of him.”
During the second round of the British Senior Open last year, Quinn’s right ankle was swollen. He managed to limp through the tournament on a torn and torn tendon, but did not play again for several months. Quinn isn’t sure how he injured his ankle. Maybe it was wear and tear.
Dr. Brian McKeonformer chief physician for Celtics, ankle surgery scheduled for last Dec. 15. Although he hadn’t played golf since July, Quinn got permission from Dr. McKeon to play in PGA Tour Champions qualifying tournaments in the weeks before his surgery. With an injection, tape and a brace, Quinn finished fourth in the first stage of qualifying in November and led the final stage in December by a shot going into the final round. Unfortunately, he finished in a tie for seventh place, two shots behind the top five who earned playing status for 2023.
“It hurt,” he said. “I knew I would come back from this injury and when I came back in May I would have a place to play full-time for the rest of the year. That would have been ample start to keep my card. But it’s one of those things. It wasn’t for lack of effort, courage. I hadn’t played golf in such a long time and to go out there and compete and do what I did was pretty amazing when you look at back to the fact that I was able to put myself in that position. But that being said, is there still disappointment? Yes. It still annoys me right now that I wasn’t able to get the job done. “
So Quinn must rely on sponsor exemptions or Monday qualifiers to play in PGA Tour Champions events this year.
Hard breaks at events
In his first competitive event of 2023, he played in the US Senior Open qualifier in Paramus, New Jersey on May 23 and earned alternate status. Fortunately, Quinn entered the field at the last minute. Unfortunately, he missed the cut at the US Senior Open in Stevens Point, Wisconsin in late June by one stroke, despite carding a birdie on his final hole.
“I didn’t play very well,” he said. “I was definitely rusty, but that being said, it was good to get back into it.”
In early June, he received a sponsorship exemption for the Principal Charity Classic, the PGA Tour Champions event in Des Moines, Iowa, and he finished 71st.
The Quinns traveled overseas to play in a British Senior Open qualifier and he shot a 70 to miss by one shot. In past years, 10 qualifying spots were available, but only five were this year.
The following week, Quinn played in the JCB Championship, an event on the Legends Tour, formerly the European Senior Tour, organized by Darren Clarke just outside Manchester, England. The final round was rained out and Quinn finished tied for 36th in a field that included Clarke, Vijay Singh, Ernie Els and Colin Montgomery.
Clarke had also invited Quinn to play in his event last year, but he had to withdraw due to his ankle injury.
Quinn has followed doctor’s orders and rehabbed from surgery on his hip, shoulder and ankle over the years.
In 2019, he played well and in position to retain his playing status in 2020, but he stepped into a pothole in New York City, fell and injured his right shoulder. He missed the rest of the season and has not enjoyed full status on the PGA Tour Champions since. To this day, he still does not have full range of motion in his shoulder. He can’t throw a football or swim freestyle, but he can still swing a golf club.
“He’s the bionic man,” said Lori, who is a nurse. “He’s healing up pretty well, I’ll tell you that.”
“I’ve practiced it a lot,” he said. “With all the rehab I’ve done, I’ve never been stronger.”
Lori admires her husband’s determination.
“My threshold,” she said, “for people who whine and complain and won’t do what they’re supposed to do after surgery and whatever, I don’t have a lot of patience for that. And he’s not.”
On the last weekend of August, Quinn received another sponsorship exemption to play in the Ally Challenge, the PGA Tour Champions event in Grand Blanc, Michigan. The first round was rained out so everyone had to play 36 holes on Saturday and 18 on Sunday. He finished 48th to earn $7,260.
Looking to regain his rhythm
“I haven’t played much,” he said. “Getting a few weeks in a row or playing more than one tournament a month is what I need right now. I’m doing a lot of really, really good things, but I just need to get my rhythm back. I’m healthy and I’m able to work on it for the time it takes to be successful. I know I’ve got three or four more really good years. So I’ve just got to put my nose to the grindstone and hopefully stay healthy and come after the.”
Quinn plans to play Monday in a qualifier for the next PGA Tour Champions event, the Sanford International in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, the following weekend. He hopes to receive a sponsorship exemption for the PURE Insurance Championship at Pebble Beach in California on 15-17. September, but will play in the qualifiers if he has to.
The week after the US Senior Open, Quinn attempted to repeat as champion in the Providence Open at Triggs Memorial GC. He played well and finished fourth against much younger competition.
When he’s at home in Holden, Quinn plays golf at Worcester Country Club. He practices mostly at TPC Boston, which hosted the Mass. Open this year. Quinn, 1990 Mass. The Open champion, was 25th in Mass. Open in June.
Quinn said playing in New England events like the Mass. The Open and Providence Open served as his “spring training in the summer” to help prepare him to play in PGA Tour Champions events and overseas.
Playing against much younger competition in the local events also helps. Quinn also plays a lot of golf at Worcester CC with her son, Owenand Owen’s friends, and also often plays against younger competitors in Florida.
“It keeps you young and it keeps you pushing yourself,” he said, “always working, whether it’s your fitness or your technique to hit the ball longer. It’s something that’s imperative if you will continue to play the game at a high level for a long period of time.”
Quinn believes that if he can beat the good, young players at Worcester CC, he can compete with some of the best PGA Tour Champions players.
Incidentally, Owen posted his first pro golf win a few weeks ago, at a pro-am at Fiddler’s Elbow CC in New Jersey, pocketing $7,500. He plans to play in the Korn Ferry Qualifier later this month.
“He’s playing well,” Quinn said, “and he’s worked his tail off, so hopefully he’ll see the success.”
If he is anything like his father, Owen will continue to follow his dream of playing professional golf for as long as he can.
—Contact Bill Doyle at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on X, formerly known as Twitter, @BillDoyle15
This article originally appeared on Telegram & Gazette: Golf: Despite injuries, near misses, there is no stopping Fran Quinn