Rhoden and Quinn go to work | NevadaAppeal.com

Rhoden and Quinn go to work

Steve Yingling

STATELINE – The day was only half gone and Dan Quinn had already squeezed in an 18-hole round of golf and was hustling back to the Tahoe Keys home he rented for his family for the week.

A stiff-necked Rick Rhoden was getting around as best as he could on the Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course driving range, occasionally massaging his neck and preferring to leave the ball-striking to other players.

The two most feared players in celebrity golf began preparation for the American Century Championship with different approaches, but come Sunday they likely will be in similar positions when the $100,000 first prize is decided.

Quinn, a three-time champion, has scaled back his golf schedule in order to spend more time with his wife and children. This will be his third celebrity tournament in 2004 and biggest event since failing to make it through the first U.S. Open qualifying in May in Florida.

“My kids are in school now so last year I was taking them to school and picking them up and it was a treat to be able to do that,” Quinn said. “If I do well this week, I might do some minitour events in the fall and maybe go to Q School.”

Six-time winner Rick Rhoden gave up an opportunity to qualify for the U.S. Senior Open in order to focus on defending his celebrity championship.

“It wouldn’t have been worth it to me,” Rhoden said. “I’d rather play decent here than qualify for the U.S. Open because the chances I’d have wouldn’t have been great, playing with 80 guys for one or two spots.”

Rhoden’s stiff neck, which will require surgery following the championship, figured heavily in his decision.

“I would have had to fly out of Denver right after I played and I wouldn’t have had a chance to ice it. I would have been stiffer than a board from flying, got in here at midnight and been playing in the pro-am (today),” Rhoden said.

Rhoden injured his neck two years ago when a cement truck rear-ended his truck. What initially was diagnosed as whiplash has worsened to a pair of herniated disks.

“I felt lucky to be alive and I went to the chiropractor and he adjusted me,” Rhoden said. “I’d go like three months or so and then wake up with a kink in my neck and go have it adjusted.

“Then in March it didn’t go away.”

Before his victory last weekend at the John Elway Celebrity Classic in Denver, Rhoden’s game didn’t remotely resemble the player that ruled celebrity golf with 45 victories in 13 seasons.

“It’s embarrassing to go shoot 12 over for three rounds, when the year before I shot 9 under at the same place,” Rhoden said. “The point is I want to play golf, whether it’s with my buddies or out here or wherever.

“Right now, playing golf is no fun … it’s work because I have to take anti-inflammatory pills, ice it down and all that stuff.”