BARRINGTON — When 13-time LPGA Tour winner Juli Inkster discovered about two weeks ago that she would be paired with Champions Tour “Iron Man” Dana Quigley for the first round of the 14th annual CVS Caremark Charity Classic, she was ecstatic.
“I was really excited to be playing with Dana,” she said minutes after the two had mustered a birdie on the final hole on Monday afternoon. She then deadpanned, “I'm glad they put me with someone who can tolerate me for 18 holes.
“I just wanted us to be there in the hunt (for the tourney title),” she added, “and he carried me. I didn't think I played that great. I made a few birdies, but he's the one who did most of the work.”
Quigley claimed otherwise. He believes the two fed off each throughout, and their scorecard proved him right.
The tandem birdied the first hole, took advantage of Quigley's eagle pitch on the fourth and manufactured five birds (courtesy of Inkster's trio) on Rhode Island Country Club's back nine to be one of three pairings tied for the tourney lead at nine-under par 63.
The others included Jay Haas and Morgan Pressel and – surprise, surprise – event founders Brad Faxon and Billy Andrade.
The team of Corey Pavin/Lexi Thompson sat one shot back at eight-under, while four other pairs – including Lorena Ochoa/Mark Calcavecchia, Yani Tseng/Jeff Sluman, Cristie Kerr/John Cook and Suzann Pettersen/Fred Funk – registered seven-under 65s.
The duet of Brett Quigley/Brittany Lincicome stood at six-under, with LPGA great Annika Sorenstam and seven-time PGA champion Peter Jacobsen mustered a distant two-over.
“I found me a real thoroughbred here (Monday),” stated the elder Quigley at the duo's informal press conference afterward. “I'm not sure you can say I've known Juli a long time, but I've known about her for probably 30 years – easy. She was a stud when she was in college, and she's always been a great professional.
“She also was a great partner; Brad told me a while ago when we were playing together he thought Juli and I would be a great storyline, as we were the two oldest players, and – no – I didn't take offense (to the comment),” he continued with a mischievous grin. “When you have a partner, you don't really know how things are going go. You have to take turns (getting birds), because you know someone's going to get into trouble at times.
“I know I made three birdies and an eagle, and she made four or five birdies. That was the beauty of it all; we both did well on different holes.”
For Quigley, it was a family affair and then some. He reveled in the fact his foursome included his nephew, Brett, and brother Paul, an Ocean State amateur legend (who caddied for his son) and Brett's teammate, Brittany Lincicome.
“It was such an honor to be here,” Dana noted. “I grew up caddying on this golf course, and there's no better course in the world. Whenever I'm asked to come back and play here, I wouldn't miss it.”
Mentioned brother Paul: “I know Dana was thrilled. He got hurt; he had a shoulder injury and missed the last couple of years (on the Champions Tour), but – when he found out he was invited to the CVS – he was ecstatic. Juli's such a great lady. He told me, 'I know we're going to be the oldest team in the field, but I want us to do well.'
“You know what? They did. Dana played fantastic, and Juli picked him up on a few holes. Dana eagled the fourth, despite the fact he hit his tee shot into the left rough. What'd he do? He grabbed a wedge from 93 yards out and sank it on the fly. It was fantastic.”
Inkster and Quigley hadn't played together before, but their chemistry was more than apparent over the final nine.
Both birdied the 217-yard, par-three 10th, and Quigley parred the par-five, double-dogleg-left 11th to remain at five-under. Quigley responded with another bird at the par-four 12th, and Inkster reacted with a “Way to go, partner!” and issued him a hug.
At the par-four, 13th, Inkster produced a stellar approach shot, then sank an elementary two-footer as the pair dropped to seven-under.
Inkster's par at the par-four 14th helped the duo remain there, but they lost a stroke when both bogeyed No. 15, a 414-yard, straightaway par-four.
Quigley drained a nine-foot birdie try at the par-four 16th, and Inkster responded with a four-footer for the same at the short, 145-yard par-three 17th. That caused the 65-year-old former Barringtonian to return the hug to the Los Altos, Calif. resident, who will turn 52 on Sunday.
The tandem also birdied the 18th.
“Julie played a great back nine; she picked me up,” offered Quigley, the ex-Crestwood Country Club pro who has won 11 Champions Tour events dating back to his first in 1997.
Haas, who won nine PGA Tour events between 1978 and 1993 and – in April 2006 captured back-to-back Champions Tour tournaments – teamed with Pressel, who didn't turn pro until about the same time her partner took his first Senior major.
They made the turn at three-under, but rattled off birds at Nos. 11 and 12 before doing the same over the final four to reach nine-under.
“We did really well as a team, (though) I don't know if either of us played tremendously individually,” Pressel indicated. “Jay had a few birdies on the back, as did I, and the holes that I was on trouble on, he managed to make birdie or at least save us par.
“As a team, we worked really well together, and it shows in our score.”
Then there were the Charity Classic hosts, Faxon and Andrade, who birdied three of their first six holes and – unlike Haas and Pressel – went into the turn at five-under. On the 16th, Faxon somehow chipped in on the undulating green, and that miraculous bird gave the team its nine-under 63.
“He flew it right into the hole, and it was one of the coolest chips I've seen in a long time,” Andrade said. “For the old folks like us, it was like seeing Larry Bird sink one; for the younger people, it was like Ray Allen.
“We were talking as we came up the 18th about how we ham-and-egged it pretty well,” he added with a chuckle. “When I was there, he wasn't, and when he was there, I wasn't.”
When asked how it felt to grab a share of his own tourney's lead, he smiled again.
“I know, it's been a while, huh?” he offered. “We haven't had this feeling in a really long time. Brad had a good day (Monday), and playing together with him again, it's awesome. I'm not sure how long (it's been), 2004, maybe? (Actually, 2003 was the last time they were partners). We figured it was better for our field to split up.
“The camaraderie was great, the golf was good and I can't believe how low the scores are,” he continued. “Juli and the old man Quigley are right there on the leaderboard, so I think it's going to be a fantastic finish (today).”
Nine of the 10 teams involved are either at or within three shots of the lead.
Faxon stated he thought the conditions were more difficult than usual.
“It's usually not that windy in the morning, but we got some early on, and there were some really difficult pin placements,” he stated.
Like Andrade, Faxon believes the tourney's switch to a new, final-day, Florida scramble format will push the scores even lower than the tournament record (-14 in the last round).
“I don't think anyone really knows what's going to happen (with it),” he said. “I think (the move) was kind of a consensus. We talked about it with Peter Jacobsen (who not only plays in the CVS but whose production company organizes and runs it), and toyed with the idea for years. We figured we'd shake it up a little.”
Faxon then was asked if he and Andrade winning the event would be bad for business.
“We've been good hosts for 13 years; we'd love to win it,” he laughed. “Once we tee off, all the pressure's off.”
CHIP SHOTS: The tee-times for the final round will be as follows:
9 a.m. – Brittany Lincicome/Brett Quigley (-6) vs. Juli Inkster/Dana Quigley (-9).
9:10 a.m. – Suzann Petterson/Fred Funk (-7) vs. Morgan Pressel/Jay Haas (-9).
9:20 a.m. – Cristie Kerr/John Cook (-7) vs. Lorena Ochoa/Mark Calcavecchia (-7).
9:30 p.m. – Annika Sorenstam/Peter Jacobsen (+2) vs. Lexi Thompson/Corey Pavin (-8).
9:40 p.m. – Yani Tseng/Jeff Sluman (-7) vs. Billy Andrade/Brad Faxon (-9).
On Monday morning, Pavin – the captain of the 2010 U.S. Ryder Cup squad and 1995 U.S. Open champion – snared the Closest-to-the-Pin Contest.
With his shot on the par-three 17th hole landing just two feet, three inches from the stick, he raised $25,000 for “Youth Price, Inc.,” the charity with which he was paired.
The victor of Monday's Pepsi Max Amateur Shootout was the foursome of Helena Foulkes of Providence; Colin Armstrong of Sydney, Australia; Kevin Tassinari of Andover, Mass; and Rick Hayward of Hampden, Me.
The runner-up included four Bay State residents, including Paul Ferns of Medway; Keith Duffy of Wellesley; Paul Keating of Norfolk; and Steven Costa of Somerset.
The CVS Caremark Charity Classic is the Ocean State's largest charitable sporting event, and it hosts some of the best PGA and LPGA representatives around the globe. Over the last 13 years, the event has raised $14 million for charities around the region, providing vital funding for a variety of critical programs serving children, families and people in transition throughout southeastern New England.
For more information, visit www.cvscaremarkcharityclassic.com .