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Curran: U.S. Open was the perfect start to Boston's big sports day

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Fran Quinn

BROOKLINE, Mass. -- Let the record show that, at 6:45 a.m., one of those "Who’s got it better than us???" days in Boston sports officially began when the first tee shot of the 2022 U.S. Open was launched off the 10th tee.

The dude who did it? That would be 57-year-old Fran Quinn from Holden, Mass. who -- with his kid Owen on the bag -- started a day that he’ll always remember.

Actually, it was a day that we’ll all always remember. We’re kinda used to the gaze of the sports world falling on Boston. But there haven’t been many days when so much was at stake for so many for so long.

From the moment Frannie piped it on 10 until midnight when the Celtics game wraps, the Athens of America will have been the sports hub of the universe.

How’d it feel to kick off this red letter day?

“Really cool,” said Quinn. “That’s just something that you never really think about. And now it became a reality. When I qualified, Owen goes, ‘Dad, you might hit the first tee ball.’ And when those pairings came out, he said, ‘Dad, you ARE hitting the first tee ball.’

"That’s an incredible, special experience and an honor. To be a Tour player from Massachusetts in the biggest major that we have in the United States and I’m the guy hitting the first ball at THE Country Club? Pretty special."

Owen, a Lehigh University graduate just starting his own journey in pro golf, was pinching still pinching himself an hour after the round ended.


“First tee shot at the U.S. Open? At 57 years old? Definitely unbelievable. And I’m going to remember it for the rest of my life. It’ll be even more memorable if he can shoot a couple under tomorrow and then play on the weekend.”

Quinn parred 10 and birdied 11 to seize the very, very, very early lead, but his putter never warmed up from close in. He wound up with a 76, six-over par, and may need around 68 on Friday to hang around.

Irritated as he was with the 76, he may have been more bummed about the 9 o’clock tip in Game 6 of the NBA Finals at the TD Garden.

“I’m planning on watching but I could be asleep!” he pleaded. “Why are they screwing us? What are they doing? Seriously!”

“He’ll probably fall asleep at the end of the first quarter, realistically,” predicted Owen. “But I’ll watch it. We’ll see if I can stay up. I got up at 4:15 today and got here for this tee time but we’ll see.”

Fran held court in the players parking lot with his wife, Lori, daughter Katie and Owen standing by. A couple feet behind Quinn, defending champion Jon Rahm’s courtesy Lexus was parked in the first spot. Nearby were the rides of Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka.

Adam Scott wandered by with his caddy. The surprisingly pocket-sized Rory McIlroy ambled through after his 3-under round put him near the top of the leaderboard.

While the lot was littered with the who’s who of professional golf, the course was teeming with guys like newly-minted supervillain Phil Mickelson, who looked especially diabolical with his shades, black shirt and black hat decorated with a logo of him “jumping” after winning the Masters in 2004.

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Phil -- embroiled in controversy for being a key cog in the newly-founded LIV Tour backed by the Saudis -- actually got a big roar when he was announced at the first tee. He then paddled it around Brookline for a few hours and finished with 78.

The fans we saw didn’t waver in support. They’ll want Phil around for the weekend. It adds to the atmosphere. Which is the other fascinating backdrop to an event like this: atmosphere.

Seeing an ultra-exclusive, highly-stuffy place like The Country Club swing its doors open waddling packs of us Massholes never ceases to amuse. They didn’t let Tom Brady join, fer crissake. They didn’t want the hoo-ha every time he came out so, according to a TCC member, they let Gisele in and Tom had to settle for being her guest when he wanted to play.

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Ahoy, polloi!!

The golf, of course, wasn’t the only game in town for us Massholes. The Sox played the A’s at Fenway (losing 4-3) and the big one is the nightcap with the Celtics trying to stave off elimination against Golden State.


There have been busy Boston days before. The one I remember best is an October Sunday in 2013 when Brady hit Kenbrell Thompkins for a game-winner in Foxboro then David Ortiz, David Ortiz, David Ortiz jacked a grand slam against the Tigers in Game 2 of the ALCS to clinch another come-from-behind win.

But this one is stretching from dawn to midnight.

Quinn, the oldest player to reach the Open through the two qualifying stages since such things began being tracked in the 1980s, knows well how special these days are.

“I’m a huge Boston sports fan and to be part of the history of today is something I’ll cherish forever,” he said.

Quinn isn’t being wistful, though. This is far from a capstone event, as far as he’s concerned. He’s competing his ass off.

“Lori’s always said it, ‘Age is just a number,’ “ he said. “I play with the kids all the time. I’m down in Florida and I’m very comfortable with the young (pros).

"I love where I play on the Champions Tour. But I enjoy this. And I want to shoot 68 tomorrow. I want all these people who’ve supported me all through the years to be like, ‘This guy did it!’ And so hopefully I can deliver.”

Is there any added pressure, all those people pulling so hard to see Quinn go low?

“Yeah maybe, but it’s fine,” he shrugged. “It’s part of the game. You’re a professional athlete. You gotta go out and you gotta perform. Hopefully they won’t only remember me hitting that first tee shot, they’ll remember me shooting 67 tomorrow.”


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