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Headline: Two Golfers With Bay State Ties - Fran Quinn & Bobby Gage - Secure Fully-Exempt Status on the 2017 PGA TOUR Champions
For Immediate Release: December 5, 2016
|Fran Quinn (above) and Bobby Gage.|
Norton, MA — Competing in what is known as one of the most difficult professional sports leagues to gain access to, two golfers with Bay State ties did the seemingly impossible by finishing in the top five.
As a result of their performance, they have gained fully-exempt status into the 2017 PGA TOUR Champions.
Fran Quinn – the 1990 Massachusetts Open Champion and current Holden resident – sank a four-foot birdie putt on the first sudden-death playoff hole at Disney World’s Magnolia Course in Lake Buena Vista, Florida to secure his spot.
Also qualifying at that site was Bobby Gage, a Winsted, Connecticut native who serves as a teacher at Blue Hill Country Club in Canton.
Earlier this season, both Quinn and Gage returned to the Bay State to compete at the 2016 Massachusetts Open Championship, where they finished T6 and T17, respectively.
Under the new eligibility regulations for PGA TOUR Champions in 2017, the top five finishers at Q-School earned fully-exempt status, while Nos. 6 through 30 (and ties) are granted associate membership on Tour, and have access to event qualifying while bypassing pre-qualifying.
The new policies also state that, “should there be a tie for the fifth and final fully-exempt card, a sudden death playoff will ensue.”
That is what Quinn faced after finishing the 72-hole Qualifying Final T4 with a score of 9-under 279.
As detailed below – courtesy of Worcester Telegram’s Bill Doyle – Quinn’s well-timed birdie on that first playoff hole assured him one of those top-five spots and an exemption into every PGA Tour Champions event in 2017 except for the U.S. Senior Open and the British Senior Open.
Quinn will look to earn enough money on the Tour to earn an exemption into the 2017 U.S. Senior Open Championship, which will be held on June 26 - July 2, 2017 at Salem Country Club.
Meanwhile, Gage was the only player to completely separate himself on the final day as he closed with three straight birdies en route to a final-round 67 and an 11-under-par total.
Currently a teacher at Blue Hill Country Club in Canton, Gage has played in two career PGA TOUR Champions events, most recently finishing T32 at this year’s U.S. Senior Open.
For more about Quinn's journey, see the article below which appeared in the Worcester Telegram.
By Bill Doyle
Telegram & Gazette Staff
Fran Quinn Jr. knew if he sank his 4-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole in the PGA Tour Champions Q-school on Friday, he’d earn full playing status on the tour next year.
So the 51-year-old Holden resident did his best to stay calm and confident.
“I just kept telling myself,” Quinn said in a telephone interview, “‘It’s part of the process, you’ve done this a million times, go through your routine, and nothing changes. So let’s do it.’”
Quinn drained the putt, then exclaimed, “We did it,” to his season-long caddie and dear friend, Jim Becker.
“We were teary-eyed walking off,” Quinn admitted. “We both put in a lot of time and effort to get me to this position. As happy as I am, I know he is as well. We were both emotional.”
Quinn began the last of the four rounds at Disney World’s Magnolia Course in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, tied for 10th at 5 under par, two shots out of the top five who would earn their playing cards for next year on the tour for golfers ages 50 and older. When he stood on the tee on the par-4 18th on Friday, he told Becker he needed a birdie.
“I was like, ‘Come on, let’s go make a 3, we need a 3,’ and I made it,” Quinn said.
Quinn hit a driver and a 5-iron to within 12 feet and sank the birdie putt to shoot a 4-under 68 and finish at 9-under 279. Then he tried to stay sharp on the range while he waited to see if his score would be good enough.
“It was awful,” he said of the wait. “It was terrible.”
It turned out that he had played well enough to enter a playoff with Gibby Gilbert III and Skip Kendall for the fourth and fifth spots. Quinn was happy to learn that the first playoff hole would be No. 10 because the par 5 suits his length off the tee.
“It played into my hands,” Quinn said.
His drive ended up sitting down in the left rough, but he managed to chop a 2-iron just short of the green and hit his 25-yard pitch to within 4 feet. Putting last in the threesome, Quinn made the birdie.
“This is a game-changer, this is a life-changer,” Quinn said. “This is the real deal. I know I can win on this tour. I proved it last year. I know I can have great success. I want to have a great year next year and to have a great 10 years.”
Kendall birdied the next playoff hole to earn the fifth and last spot.
Golfers who finished sixth through 30th earned access to Monday qualifiers while bypassing prequalifying. Quinn knows how difficult it is to play your way into tournaments via Monday qualifiers or counting on receiving sponsor exemptions because that’s what he had to do this year.
Even though he played in only nine PGA Tour Champions events in 2016, Quinn still earned $274,196. He tied for 11th in the Principal Charity Classic, placed 12th in the Senior Players Championship and tied for fourth in the American Family Insurance Championship, the latter after getting in on a sponsor exemption. But he rarely knew if he’d be playing each week. Next year, he won’t have to worry about that. He’ll be exempt into every PGA Tour Champions event in 2017 except for the U.S. Senior Open and the British Senior Open, but he can also get into those events if he’s high enough on the money list. He played in the British Senior Open this year.
Playing in the U.S. Senior Open next year would be special for Quinn because it will be held in his home state, at Salem CC in Peabody June 29-July 2.
A few weeks ago at the PowerShares QQQ Championship, Quinn came within a shot of advancing to the second round of the PGA Tour Champions playoffs and securing at least high conditional status for 2017. Quinn knew his only other chance to earn playing status for next year was to finish among the top five at Q-school, and at the time, he said, “If I play my game, then I should get one of those cards.”
And he did just that.
“There was no reason for me not to be confident,” Quinn said. “I was playing well all year. Knowing how well I played on Sundays this year, how well I did putting myself in position to win golf tournaments, learning from the mistakes that I made when I might have gotten ahead of myself, and I kind of put it to the test today and it paid off.”
It paid off big time.
“I’m just beyond thrilled,” Quinn said. “To play as well as I’ve played this whole year and to not get through into the second playoff event, which would have given me really good status, and then coming here and being on the bubble the whole week and coming out today and playing great. I played great today. I had three or four putts lip out and I never let it shake me.”
Quinn won four Nationwide Tour events and two Asian Tour events in his pursuit of trying to make it on the PGA Tour before he finally earned his PGA Tour playing card for 2010 by finishing 25th on the Nationwide Tour money list. Unfortunately, a back injury limited his playing time, and he lost his card.
Now he’s healthy and excited about playing full time on the PGA Tour Champions next year when his wife Lori and children Owen, Katie and Sean will be cheering him on.
“I can’t wait to spend Christmas with my family and thank them for always being there for me,” Quinn said.
—Contact Bill Doyle at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @BillDoyle15.