With longtime friend on the bag, Brett Quigley snags first PGA Tour Champions win
In just his second start on the PGA Tour Champions since turning 50 last August, Rhode Island’s Brett Quigley picked up the first victory on a major tour in his career, winning the Morocco Champions in Marrakech, Morocco, on Saturday.
And he did so with a familiar face on the bag.
Richard McCarthy, who hails from Massachusetts and resides in Palm Beach, Florida, has been a friend and at-home golf buddy of Quigley’s since the mid-1990s.
But this was just McCarthy’s third time ever looping for Quigley – first on the PGA Tour Champions to go along with two other loops on the PGA Tour.
“We were introduced by a mutual friend, Kevin Murphy, who runs the McArthur Club in Hobe Sound almost 30 years ago,” McCarthy told The Caddie Network. “Just two New England guys in Florida – let’s go play golf. We met right there and have been buddies ever since.”
Game that travels.
— PGA TOUR Champions (@ChampionsTour) February 1, 2020
With very limited status, Quigley was a late entry into Morocco after several others withdrew. When he found out he was in, he rang McCarthy to see if he’d be interested in picking up the loop.
“He said, ‘you want to go to Morocco?’ It’s a part of the world I’d never been to, so I said, ‘sure,’ and I told him he had to bring the small bag,” McCarthy laughed. “Other caddies there were asking if I was his full-time caddie – everyone wants his bag – and I had to tell them, ‘if this event wasn’t in Morocco, I’d be back home in bed!’”
Then what happened was storybook-type stuff.
“For the first time, he played like he does when we’re out playing a round at home,” said McCarthy of Quigley, who had five runner-up finishes in 408 career PGA Tour starts, but never won. Quigley did win the 2001 Arkansas Classic for his second victory on what is now the Korn Ferry Tour, 18 years and 10 months ago. “He was so calm. We were talking about it on the way home from the airport and realized that in the whole 54 holes, there wasn’t one negative part to come up. No anger, no disappointment. It was just like we were playing at home.”
Quigley overcame a three-shot deficit to Stephen Ames after 36 holes and fired a final-round, 6-under 66 – which included a knee-knocker from 5 feet to save par at the last to avoid a playoff with Ames.
“He putted really well,” McCarthy said. “He made everything. Missed maybe three tee balls out to the right all week. It was impressive, especially when Ames birdied 16 and 17 to get within one. Brett hits it so far still. Ames and [Bernhard] Langer had about 203 in on 18 and Quig’s is hitting 8 iron. We had a discussion about the first putt and how fast it was… and he found out how fast it was, hitting it 5 feet by. Ames put pressure on him making the 8-footer, but Brett composed himself and hit that winning putt center cut. Lightening finally struck and I was lucky enough to be on the strap for a good buddy and watch him get that first win in a big event. Very cool. It was fantastic.”
Aside from Quigley’s incredible play all week, what impressed McCarthy most about his buddy’s first, big-time “W” was just how genuinely happy for Quigley his fellow competitors were. The response, McCarthy said, was incredible.
Billy Andrade and caddie Mark “Ziggy” Zyons – both fellow Rhode Islanders – were greenside to embrace Quigley and McCarthy moments after the final putt dropped. They were paired with Quigley and McCarthy in Round 2.
Everyone knew what the win meant to Brett Quigley. pic.twitter.com/gc6rQfQSJi
— PGA TOUR Champions (@ChampionsTour) February 2, 2020
“It was funny,” McCarthy said. “We played with Billy in the second round. It was cool. On the first tee, there’s six of us there (three players, three caddies), we’re sitting there and four of the six are New England boys on the tee, talking about the Pats, the Bruins and the Super Bowl and we’re in Morocco.”
Final-round playing partners Ames and Bernhard Langer also had kind words for Quigley, as did countless others.
“When I saw Bernhard was in our group for the final round, I immediately thought, ‘am I going to bother him? Is my shadow going to be in his way? Am I going to make a noise to piss him off?’ I had to watch my Ps and Qs,” McCarthy said. “But let me tell you about Langer – what a class act. I knew he would be quiet, focused, driven, the whole nine – he’s a major winner. But he couldn’t have been more of a gentleman on or off the course last week. You think of him as so robotic and so great, but he’s a great ambassador to the game of golf. He said congratulations a bunch of times, even when we left the airport Sunday morning. The biggest surprise to me was what a nice guy Bernhard was…
“…But as for the feelings toward Quigs from his peers, that didn’t surprise me at all. He gets along with everybody. He hadn’t won yet, but I noticed a while back when I caddied for him at the Hope a couple years ago on the range – it never crossed my mind how long he’d been out there – everyone from John Daly to Retief Goosen looked up and said hi to him. Nobody went by without acknowledging him. He deserved what he got the other day.”
McCarthy also shared a special text he received from Dana Quigley – an 11-time PGA Tour Champions winner, who happens to be Brett’s uncle.
His first putt that mattered since 1987. 😮
Real talk in the car ride back to the hotel. pic.twitter.com/zh5FYDrN5Z
— PGA TOUR Champions (@ChampionsTour) February 3, 2020
“Dana sent me a text when it was over and said, ‘Congrats, Richie. You were awesome. Thanks for believing in him. We always knew he was that good. Praise God,’” McCarthy said. “Dana can be a hard ass; we know how good he is on the course. He’s been rooting for this kid forever and knew it was his time. I think Quigs will run for a while now. He’s the new young buck out there. Dana is as tickled as can be for him. Dana couldn’t have been happier for him. Dana was pumped. His dad, Paul, too.”
As for future caddying plans for McCarthy, there isn’t much. There’s a party for Quigley back home in Florida on Tuesday night to celebrate the victory. McCarthy said he thought they might talk about keeping the band together for next week’s event in Naples and, if things fall into place, McCarthy might be making a cameo in Rhode Island over the summer.
“I made it clear that he can’t afford me, but we’ll do something,” McCarthy laughed. “We’ve got Naples to keep it riding. And then if he qualifies for the Senior U.S. Open, that’s in Rhode Island at Newport Country Club, so that would be special. But, for now, Naples is most realistic. I can drive to that one. Everyone wants his bag now… The kid is gifted. He’s the most naturally gifted player I know – and I’ve played with plenty of them, including major champions. There’s no mechanics to it. To get out of his own way and win is great. He’ll be tremendous now as the new young buck. What he got in Morocco, he deserved. He put in his time.”