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Forget Robert Downey Jr. -- the real Iron Man is at the Players

Robert Downey Jr. has the new hit movie, but there is only one real Iron Man, and he was spectating Friday at the Players Championship.

You may not have recognized him with the Bermuda shorts and the dark sunglasses, but there was Dana Quigley, the all-time Iron Man of the Champions Tour, in the gallery of his nephew, Brett Quigley, who shot 76 to finish at 2-over-par and make the cut.

Uncle Dana, meanwhile, is in the middle of another astonishing streak. The Iron Man who once teed it up in 264 consecutive senior tournaments is in the middle of three weeks off, which is unfamiliar territory for him. "Yeah, but I'm still playing 36 or 54 holes every day at home," Quigley, 61, said with a grin. "You know me."

The Champions Tour goes dark (pardon that potential age-related double entendre) the week of the Players. There's no senior event this week. Next week the Champions Tour stops in Birmingham, Ala. It's a hilly course, and it will probably be warm, so Quigley — who has battled blood-pressure issues in the last few years — will take a pass. Last week, he skipped the Champions event for the broadcast booth, to help televise the event with fellow tour-ist John Jacobs. If you caught any of the Golf Channel's Champions telecast, guest analysts Quigley and J.J., as he's known, were pretty entertaining.

It was fun, Quigley said. The one drawback? He had to wear a suit and tie on-air. "Geez, I had to go out and buy all new clothing," he said. "I spent $1,400 for three days of TV, and now I'll probably never touch that stuff again."

Quigley said the Golf Channel's David Marr Jr. had urged the famously-glib Quigley to grab the microphone for a week, just to try it out. "I said, I'll do it if I could work with J.J. and Dave," Quigley said. "So I talked to J.J., and he said OK. It was fun, but Nick Price broke all of our hearts. I think everyone really wanted him to win last week."

Count Quigley among those who aren't surprised by Langer's second-round 67 at the Stadium Course, putting the German in a tie for second place. He's rooting for Langer — who has three senior-circuit victories since turning 50 last year — to win the Players and get the five-year PGA Tour exemption. "I'll lead the charge to take up the collection to send Bernhard back out here full-time," Quigley joked. "We would not miss him. Seriously, he could definitely win this thing. He's tough."

A walk around this course is becoming a tradition for Quigley, who followed one of Brett's rounds here last year, too. Brett was even-par with three holes left but bogeyed 16 and 18. "The pace of play out here is too slow," Quigley said. "Brett is fast; he's hitting shots while he's talking when we play at home. I think it's hard for him to play this way. At the end of the day, I think he's low on energy because of the pace."

There will be no return to Iron Man mode for the elder Quigley. His best playing days are behind him, he said, and the competition is getting fiercer all the time.

"I am 61, and there's a new star coming out on our tour every week," he said. "I mean it — every guy is a superstar or a star or a former Ryder Cupper. It's a tough league."

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