While Phil Mickelson was racking up his 41st PGA Tour win on Sunday, Jack Nicklaus headed up an elite field of golf legends in an event that raised an estimated $1 million to help the family of Champions Tour player and Massachusetts native Dana Quigley.
Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, and Lee Trevino joined Nicklaus and 18 other superstars for a February 3 pro-am whose funds will assist in the recovery of Dana’s son Devon from a tragic 2011 car accident that left the younger Quigley fighting for his life. Against all odds, Devon pulled through, but is unable to move or talk, according to Jim McCabe, ex of the Boston Globe and now with Golfweek.
“We’re sort of an intimate group; we know each others’ families,” Ben Crenshaw told the Palm Beach Post. “We’ve all sort of been through the wars, but when something like this happens we know it could be our kid. When the idea was brought forth we said, ‘What a nice thing; we’ve got to do it.’ So we’re only too happy to be here for Devon and Dana.”
The elder Quigley, an 11-time Champions Tour winner and University of Rhode Island graduate who will compete in this week’s Allianz Championship, was greatly moved.
“This is what the golf community is about: people helping people,” he said. “All our stuff is predicated on charity. Devon has met and knows every one of these guys, and what can you say?”
Nicklaus took the reins, hosting a party at his home on Saturday night that included an auction featuring the chance to play 18 holes with him and Player. That item hauled in six figures and the auction raised more than $400,000, according to the Post.
Sunday’s round, in which the icons of the game and 72 amateurs teed it up at the Floridian Golf & Yacht Club in Palm City, Fla., reportedly raised another $600,000.
“It’s a great cause,” said Palmer. “Dana has been a great friend of mine for years, and to see this accident happen is very sad. I just hope that all of this will make it turn, [and] things like this could help make that happen.”
The late-night Nov. 30, 2011, crash nearly took Devon Quigley’s life. Today, though, the 28-year-old who had no medical insurance, is making progress.
“He’s home in Rhode Island; my ex-wife takes him for rehab every day,” said Devon’s dad, who journeys between West Palm Beach and Rhode Island every other week to be with his son. “He’s moving his head now; when he coughs he can lift it back up without help, which is a huge improvement. [That’s] a major breakthrough for a kid they said was never going to make it.
“It’s very, very tiny improvements, the kind that only a family that’s living with him would notice,” Quigley added. “But they’re huge improvements for us. It gives us a lot of encouragement.”
For Nicklaus, the event was all about aiding one of the tour’s own.
“Friends help friends, and golfers help golfers,” he said. “We had a friend who needed help, and we’re here.”
As for the field, which was limited to Hall of Famers and/or major champions, Dana Quigley laughingly told McCabe about not being eligible for his son’s event and having to turn away his nephew, a professional golfer from Massachusetts, as well as another rather well-known New Englander.
“[Brett Quigley] called to tell me he was ready to play, couldn’t wait, and he said Fax [Brad Faxon] was on board, too,” Dana Quigley said. “I had to tell him they couldn’t play, but not to feel bad. I can’t play, either.”
Quigley was overcome when expressing to McCabe his gratitude for the sold-out event thrown by so many of golf’s nobility, each of whom paid his own way.
“Words can’t express my feelings for what they’re doing for Devon,” said Quigley.
Emily Kay is a regular contributor to New England Golf Monthly. You may follow Kay on Twitter @golfexaminer