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Finishing School
ALAN SHIPNUCK
February 12, 2007
The FBR Open boiled down to a progress report on the careers of two young pros, and only one, Aaron Baddeley, truly made the grade
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February 12, 2007

Finishing School

The FBR Open boiled down to a progress report on the careers of two young pros, and only one, Aaron Baddeley, truly made the grade

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Quinney was game for the fight, at least until the bitter end. He learned to mix it up as the youngest of four brothers in a very athletic family. For 13 consecutive years a Quinney played varsity basketball at South Eugene (Ore.) High, and Jeff earned a permanent place in Axmen lore by once hitting six consecutive three-pointers in a half. "All the Quinneys are good shooters," says one of the brothers, D.J., 32, a walk-on quarterback at Oregon. "We get it from our dad." That would be Bob, who was an all-state basketball player in high school and went on to play at BYU. His other two sons were also college athletes: Rob, 40, played golf at Oregon, and Mark, 36, was an all-conference tennis player at BYU. The house they grew up in had a game room with an eight-foot-high hoop and carpeted floors. "It was basically tackle basketball," says Mark, "and Jeff was the tackling dummy."

No doubt that's how Jeff feels after this three-week run of near misses, which began at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic. On Sunday at the Hope, Quinney pulled off the shot of the year so far on Tour, acing the 17th hole to get within one of the lead before ultimately tying for fourth. A week later, at the Buick Invitational, he gave Woods all he could handle until an unsightly double bogey on the 12th hole.

As the second- and third-round leader at the FBR, Quinney had to respond to questions about his inability to close the deal, and on Sunday he seemed to offer an eloquent answer with back-to-back birdies on 13 and 14, pushing his lead to two strokes over Bart Bryant and putting him three up on Baddeley and John Rollins. But Quinney lost his nerve and his swing coming in, missing a six-footer for birdie on 15 and then snap-hooking his drive into a water hazard on the short par-4 17th. Baddeley stormed to victory with three straight birdies that were a dazzling display of power and touch: He reached the par-5 15th with a three-wood from 269 yards, drained a 24-footer on 16 and then got up and down from 50 yards on the 17th, sinking a key 10-footer.

"What makes Aaron so dangerous is that his ball striking has become very consistent, and there are days when he will make virtually every putt he looks at," says Plummer, with a nod to Baddeley's opening 65 that included 10 consecutive one-putts and only 20 putts overall. "Even with a tournament in the balance he has no fear."

The same cannot be said for Quinney, at least not yet. But like Baddeley, he could look to Sunday as a measure of how far he has come. The victor was talking about winning major championships and challenging Woods, just as he did when he was a carefree teenager. However disappointed Quinney was, he chose to focus on the practical benefits of a third straight top 10 for a player who for so long has struggled to find his place. "I basically locked up my Tour card for next year," he said, "and it's barely February."

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