Sun Devil Alumni Update: Men's Golfer Jeff Quinney

Aug. 20, 2001

By JOHN CONRAD, The Eugene Register-Guard

Now that he's completed an odyssey through the Masters, U.S. Open, British Open and Walker Cup, Jeff Quinney finds himself back in familiar territory.

Quinney concludes his amateur golf career this week as he defends his U.S. Amateur title beginning Monday at East Lake and Druid Hills golf clubs in Atlanta. He will then turn professional and make his PGA Tour debut in the Air Canada Championship Aug. 30-Sept. 2 thanks to a sponsor's exemption. He will then come home to play the Tour Oregon Classic at Shadow Hills Country Club on Sept. 13-16.

'I've been here before and I feel that should put me one up on everyone else,' Quinney said. 'But I can't look past anything but playing well Monday and Tuesday (during qualifying) and getting into the draw. It's not easy because there are 312 of the best golfers in the country playing for 64 spots.

'I could have turned pro by now. But I wanted to play in the Walker Cup, and turning pro can wait a while longer. My chances are probably slim because not too many guys have defended their title in this, but I don't want to look back in 20 years and wonder what would have happened.'

Quinney, who completed his eligibility at Arizona State this past spring, has had a wild ride during the 2001 season.

He played in the Masters and shot rounds of 80 and 76. He then went 82 and 73 in the U.S. Open, but the numbers don't tell the story there. Quinney was 10-over after nine, got a break when the tournament was delayed by rain, then was just five over for 27 holes the next day. He carded 76 and 73 at the British Open, then lost both his matches last weekend as the U.S. lost to Great Britain-Ireland in the Walker Cup matches.

'I might not have stayed an amateur just to defend my title,' Quinney said. 'But I really wanted to play in the Walker Cup. It didn't turn out the way we wanted, but it was special to be on the team.'

Quinney has struggled with his game ever since late in the college season. His primary problem has been driving accuracy and recently he went back to a Ping driver after using Taylor Made most of the year.

'I won the Amateur with a Ping,' he said. 'I don't hit it as far, but I hit it straighter.'

Quinney hoped to make a cut in one of the majors, which he played because of his win in the Amateur last year, but isn't upset he didn't.

'Not too many people get to do what I did,' he said. 'It's been an awesome year. I didn't play the way I wanted, but I'm taking all the positives out of it that I can. It's made me a better player seeing what it takes at the top level, and I see how much work I need to do and how much improvement I need to make to play at that level.'

Quinney will take advantage of as many sponsor's exemptions as possible to play PGA Tour events the rest of the year, then go to the Tour qualifying school, but he's looking forward to coming home for the Oregon Classic.

'I've always wanted to play in it and it's never fit in my schedule,' he said. 'The Tour is probably a more realistic chance for me to make a stronger appearance. You always want to go onto the PGA Tour and make a big splash right away, but it doesn't work that way for a lot of people, and sometimes guys who get up there too fast just get knocked down again anyway.'

Quinney is currently working on merchandise contracts and securing an agent. His father, Eugene attorney Bob Quinney, has represented athletes in the past. But Jeff said the two decided it best to separate business and family.

'Dad's going to be involved,' Quinney said. 'But we don't want to damage our relationship with a business-type deal.'

And golf will become Quinney's business in another week. But first he gets to revisit his biggest triumph as an amateur.

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