History was working against Brett Quigley, who nonetheless emerged as an unlikely winner of the inaugural Morocco Champions on Saturday.
Quigley, 50, in only his second PGA Tour Champions start, shot a second-straight six-under-par 66 at Samanah Golf Club in Marrakesh on Saturday and won by one over 36-hole leader Stephen Ames.
The victory was his first at any level since the Buy.com Arkansas Classic in 2001. Moreover, Quigley had 408 starts on the PGA Tour without a victory, has been working for Fox Sports as an on-course reporter in its coverage of USGA events, including the U.S. Open, and came to Morocco with virtually no status on the PGA Tour Champions.
"It's been so long since I won a tournament. Just incredible," he said. "It's weird, I had a peace all week. I was pretty comfortable all week. I wouldn't say I was nervous until the last hole here on my second putt, but just felt comfortable and just felt comfortable here in Marrakesh.
“I have a schedule now. I got a place to play. I didn’t mean to make it this interesting. I guess I needed to. Trying to leave the putt short on the last hole and knocked it by five feet.”
He made it dead center and now is fully exempt on a tour in which he wasn’t expected to get many starts before his victory in the first full-field event on the PGA Tour Champions 2020 schedule.
The only reason he got into this field was that others ahead of him on the exemption list declined to make the trip to Morocco, among them Ernie Els, David Toms and Steve Stricker. Quigley got in based on his place on the PGA Tour career money list, 174th.
Only after entrees closed 10 days earlier did he discover he was in.
“So the cutoff was a week before instead of a normal Friday deadline,” he said. “I knew it was close and I was afraid to look, but then I went online after the deadline on Friday and saw that I was in, so I was excited to go and see this part of the world.”
Quigley started the final round trailing Ames by three, but overtook him with a front-nine five-under 31, while Ames shot an even-par 36. Quigley led by one when he made a 20-foot par-saving putt at 13, then increased the lead to two by holing a 40-footer for birdie.
“Wow,” he said when the putt hit the pin straight on and fell in the hole.
Ames, meanwhile, bogeyed the 14th and 15th to fall three behind, then birdied 16 and 17 to get within one, the margin of victory for Quigley.
And though the victory was wholly unexpected, it was not unusual to see the Quigley name atop a senior leader board. His uncle, Dana Quigley, won 11 times on the senior tour. The fact that Dana had 113 career starts on the PGA Tour without a victory might bode well for his nephew.