BROOKLINE, Mass – Not many golfers can say that they shared the lead at any point during a U.S. Open.
Fran Quinn can.
In the opening round of the U.S. Open at The Country Club on Thursday, the Holden resident teed off at 6:45 a.m. in the first threesome that began on the 10th hole. A few minutes later, he birdied the par-3, 131-yard 11th hole to grab a share of the lead.
“It was early in the round,” he said.
Yes, it was early, but the many family members and friends on hand didn’t care. A few friends watching at home took photos of the leaderboard on television with Quinn on top and texted them to Quinn’s wife, Lori.
On 11, he hit a gap wedge 12 feet behind the hole and sank the putt for the first of his two birdies. He also carded eight bogeys.
“He played well early,” said his son Owen, who caddied for him, “but he never really made any of the putts to keep the momentum, which is kind of a shame.”
Quinn finished with a 6-over 76.
At 57, he is the oldest golfer in the 156-player field by five years. So did he feel his age out there?
“Right now I do because I’m disappointed in my round,” he said, “but, no, I don’t. Truthfully, I played darn solid. I should have gotten out with 70 today. I’ve never felt old. I play with young kids all the time. Age is just a number. I feel right now probably as strong and as good as I’ve felt in years.”
Quinn still believes he can make the cut in his fifth U.S. Open and first in eight years.
“I need to putt better,” he said. “I didn’t putt very well. I’m going to work on my putting and if I can shoot 1- or 2-under tomorrow (Friday), I’ll be fine and I’ll make the cut.”
Quinn is scheduled to tee off in the second round on Friday at 12:30 p.m. so he planned to sleep in his own bed in Holden Thursday night. He stayed in a Boston hotel Wednesday night, however, because of his early tee time and got up at 4:10 a.m.
“That’s early,” he said. “We don’t do that on the PGA Champions Tour any more. We start at 9 o’clock in the morning. Six-forty-five is a little bit early for me.”
Lori had planned to caddie for her husband, but Owen did instead. During a practice round at TCC on Monday, Lori caddied and Owen offered advice. Lori figured that Owen would do a better job of carrying the heavy U.S. Open bag so she deferred to him. Owen also carried his father’s bag when he last played in the U.S. Open in 2014.
“It was fun,” Owen said. “It was really cool that he was able to hit the opening tee shot off 10 this morning. We had a bunch of support out there, a bunch of Central Mass. people, a lot of yelling, ‘Franny,’ walking up the fairways. It was really cool.”
On the par-5, 557-yard eighth hole, he hit a driver and 4-iron to just right of the green and chipped a sand wedge to within two inches.
“I thought I made it,” he said.
Instead, he tapped in for his second birdie of the day. Unfortunately, he drove into the rough on nine, his last hole, and had to punch it back out into the fairway and ended up making a bogey to finish at 6 over.
Nevertheless, Quinn appreciated the support while playing in his home state.
“I hear all the noise,” he said, “all the good stuff, ‘Go Fran, Worcester, Holden.’ I hear all that, but you’re still in your game and you’re playing.”
Quinn is the oldest U.S. Open player to advance through the local and final qualifying stages since the USGA began keeping track in 1997. The previous oldest was Wes Short Jr., who was 52 in 2016 when he qualified for his only U.S. Open.
“Isn’t that awesome?” Lori said of her husband being the oldest qualifier. “I wonder if anybody will ever beat that, except maybe him.”
Jim Furyk, the 2003 U.S. Open champion, is the second oldest player in the field. He’s 52, five years younger than Quinn, but he didn’t have to qualify because he was exempt.
“I think it’s really cool,” Furyk said. “Obviously with Fran growing up in this area and to be a home game for him and to get to see a lot of family and friends, I’m really happy for him.”
Quinn’s mother, Carol, his sister, Erin, his daughter, Katie, and his uncle, Bill Cosgrove, were among the other family members following him.
On the web: USOpen.com