Men's Golfer Quinney Ready To Tee It Up With Tiger

June 13, 2001

(Netitor Note: Jeff Quinney closed his ASU golf career this past season and will enter the professional ranks soon. With his U.S. Amateur Championship last year, he will play in the U.S. and British Opens this year, and is paired with Tiger Woods for the first two rounds in Tulsa. Quinney has a 10:30 a.m. Arizona Time tee time on Thursday and a 6:30 a.m. start on Friday. Quinney also played in Phoenix Open and the Masters. He posted a 72.40 career stroke average in 48 collegiate tournaments and had 18 top-10 finishes. Below is a story from the Eugene Register-Guard, Quinney's hometown paper.)

By JOHN CONRAD

Register-Guard Sports Editor

A good many people who play the PGA Tour on a regular basis don't relish the prospect of a Tiger Woods pairing.

Jeff Quinney of Eugene has had months to anticipate that a) honor, b) opportunity, c) sentence, which will arrive on Thursday when Quinney tees it up in his firstU.S. Open championship.

And he still doesn't know quite what to anticipate.

'How do you prepare to play with Tiger?' Quinney asked. 'I expect to see some great golf. Hopefully, I'll still be able to keep my mind on my ball and what I have to do. But the spotlight will be on him, and it will be a lot of fun to watch that.'

The Open will be the latest opportunity to come Quinney's way since he wonthe U.S. Amateur title last summer. He played in the Masters earlier this year,paired with defending champion Vijay Singh and tour veteran Loren Roberts,shot rounds of 80 and 78 and didn't make the cut.

'The pairing here is the whole new picture,' Quinney said. 'Playing with Tiger makes this a step up from the Masters.'

This will be the first of two tournaments the two play together. Quinney's Am win also gets him into the British Open, which like the U.S. Open pairs the Am winner with the defending champion, who happens to be Woods.

Quinney's concern going into the Open isn't so much Tiger as the fact he hasn't played well for the past several weeks. He was never in contention in either the NCAA Regional tournament at Trysting Tree or the NCAA Championships at Duke.

'Those courses required that you put the ball in the fairway, and I haven't been doing that,' Quinney said. 'I guess this week will be the same story. My swing is getting closer, but when I've gotten into tournament situations, I haven't been able to trust it. I've got to get over the hump to where I feel comfortable 100 percent of the time.

'The thing is, I know I'll get there, whether it's this week or later.'

Of course, it's this week he's playing with Woods in the biggest tournament in the world. Al Mundle, the Riveridge teaching professional who works closely with Quinney, thinks Quinney will cope with Woods if he can regain confidence in his game.

'We've worked on a few things,' Mundle said. 'We've worked a lot on balance, because sometimes he gets outside on his right foot at the top and then gets too fast in transition. We've also worked on his swing plane because it gets too upright. But trying to change a lot of things during the tournament season is very difficult, so we're trying to keep it very basic.

'At the Masters, Vijay and Loren were wonderful to Jeff, they included him as part of their group, and I'm sure there were a number of pros who wouldn't have done that. I think Tiger will be the same. The only problem with him is the commotion of the gallery. But Jeff played in front of a crowd at the U.S. Amateur final (at Baltusrol) that was pro-JamesDriscoll, and Jeff had to contend both with extra noise and a lack of courtesy.'

Quinney father, Eugene attorney Bob Quinney, has wondered at times if everything that has landed in Jeff's lap following the Am win might be too much too soon. Not only has Quinney taken a sponsor's exemption to play in the Phoenix Open, followed by three of golf's four majors (plus the Scottish Open the week before the British Open), he's been trying to keep up with school at Arizona State and live up to his reputation as the leader of the Arizona State golf team.

'I think Jeff is more concerned about how he's playing than who he's playing with,' Bob Quinney said. 'All of a sudden, he's going left and right off the tee and doesn't know why. Everybody goes through that, but he's going through it now. But I've been impressedthat he doesn't get down when he doesn't hit it well, and that will help him if he's going to stay in this business.

'The thing I've noticed is he has really appreciated when he's had a chance for some time off lately. I think all of this has taken more of a toll than we originally thought. But this is such a great opportunity.'

Quinney, who will turn professional either after the Walker Cup matches or the U.S. Amateur if he chooses to defend his title, isn't going to forget to treasure these moments.

'I want to make the most of this and I'd like to make the cut,' Quinney said. 'But if I don't play well, I'm not going to forget (that) not many people get the chance to do what I'm doing and how much this experience will help me down the road.'

If he doesn't play well alongside Woods, he won't be the first.

'When people like Davis Love and others say they are intimidated playing with Tiger, how can you really prepare for that?' Bob Quinney asked. 'You better be prepared for people moving around, yelling and screaming, and not caring a thing about you.'

Jeff Quinney said he met Woods a few years back.

'But that was before he was the real Tiger,' Quinney said.

Certainly there exists the threat of getting chewed up by this one. But there's a lot to learn from him, too.

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