Quinney Wins U.S. Amateur Golf

Monday, August 28th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

SPRINGFIELD, N.J. (AP) — After beating himself up all night for blowing a three-hole lead with as many to play, Jeff Quinney needed only nine minutes to beat James Driscoll once play resumed Monday in the weather-suspended U.S. Amateur.

Quinney sank a lightning-quick 30-foot putt on the 39th hole to capture the 100th Amateur and everything that goes with it, exemptions for the U.S. Open and British Open and an invitation to the Masters, all next year.

``What a long night it was,'' Quinney of Eugene, Ore. said. ``I was really tired and fatigued. I was sitting in bed and just couldn't fall asleep. I was so frustrated on the mistakes I made yesterday, thinking this thing should have been over.''

Once play resumed Monday, all it took to decide the championship was one hole, the par-3, 204-yard third hole on the Upper Course at Baltusrol Golf Club.

As the ball neared the hole on line, Quinney, a 21-year-old Arizona State senior, started walking after it with his arms out, ready to celebrate like Tiger Woods did on the first playoff hole of the recent PGA Championship.

When the ball rolled in, Quinney extended his arms up and quickly hugged his caddie, Tyler Pendergast.

``Usually you can tell by watching the guy if he thinks he's made it or not,'' said Driscoll of Brookline, Mass. ``And it seemed his eyes were getting a little bigger when it was going near the hole. I was like: 'Oh man, this is going in.' It was a great putt.''

Driscoll seemingly gained the momentum with his great comeback in the final three holes of the scheduled 36-hole match before the threat of bad weather forced a second and final suspension of play at 7:14 Sunday night.

``It definitely was a different atmosphere this morning,'' said Driscoll, a recent Virginia graduate. ``Last night, you know, you're in a groove, you're sweating, you're into match play. There's a certain rhythm you're in.'

Driscoll didn't have that on Monday, and he was in trouble right from the start. His 5-iron went much further than he expected, landing in the deep rough on the right side of the green.

Quinney debated a few seconds before hitting a 4-iron to the center of the green. After Driscoll's soft downhill flop shot scooted 20 feet past the hole and almost off the green, Quinney ended the match by sinking his birdie putt.

``To make the putt and win the match meant so much,'' said Quinney, who will be paired with Tiger Woods in the opening round of next year's U.S. Open. ``I would have been real disappointed if I had lost. I don't know what I would have done.''

By winning, Quinney also earned the last spot on the United States team that will play in the World Amateur in Germany, starting later this week.

The 39 holes tied the U.S. Amateur record for the longest title match. Sam Urzetta beat Frank Stranahan in 39 holes in 1950.

Even though he lost, Driscoll, a quarterfinalist in this event last year, always will have his comeback to remember.

After being let down by his putter all day Sunday, Driscoll made two great putts on the 35th and 36th holes to temporarily deny Quinney the title.

Rooted on by his mother, father, five brothers, a sister and about 60 friends, Driscoll made a sliding 8-footer for birdie at the 17th and a 5-footer for par at 18 to win the holes and send the match to extra holes.

Driscoll's comeback in the Amateur was worthy of Woods.

Woods rallied from 2-down with three holes to play to beat Steve Scott in the 1996 Amateur and came from 4-down with 10 to play to beat Trip Kuehne 2-up in 1994.

However, going extra holes was the last thing anyone expected after Quinney made a 2-footer for par at the par-3 15th to stay 3-up with three to play.

A bad drive and chip cost Quinney No. 16, and Driscoll won the last two holes.

Driscoll actually hit two great shots at the par-5 17th, coming out of a bunker from 50 yards to about 8 feet and making the birdie. Quinney had already been conceded a par.

For a split second, it appeared Driscoll lost the championship at the 18th when he blocked his drive right into trees with the ball coming to rest against a pine cone.

However, Quinney's drive hit a tree limb and came to rest on the edge of the fairway about 300 yards from the hole. Both reached the green in three and Driscoll tied the match by making a 5-foot par putt with the ball doing a 360 around the hole before falling in.

``I couldn't believe it went in,'' said Driscoll, who howled after the putt fell. ``It caught the right edge and snuck in.''

Quinney nearly ended the match on the 37th hole when his hot shot out of a greenside bunker hit the pin and stopped inches from the cup.

The players showed a lot of sportsmanship at the 38th hole, conceding short putts so neither would lose on a shot like that.