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You don't typically win at the birdie-binge that is Warwick Hills by playing it safe.

Don't try telling that to Brett Quigley, a rare professional golfer since the game's restart last month who has been spotted wearing a mask around the course amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Many caddies have worn them, but few if any golfers on any of the tours.

"I have been wearing it since we got home," Quigley said, speaking of the Champions Tour's shutdown in March. "Early on there was some talk saying we might have to wear it in between shots, and I just wanted to get used to wearing it. And then a couple guys at home also wear it for sunblock, because in Jupiter, Florida, it's a little warm down there. The sun tends to burn you a little. And I just got used to wearing it.

"And it's just easy to have it and pull it up and try to keep social distancing and safe."

Quigley, 50, is wearing the red, white and blue face covering, pulling it up over his mouth and nose when he's not playing a shot, and pulling it down when he is.

And it's sure working, with Quigley firing an 8-under 64 in the second round Saturday to take a one-shot lead into the final round of the third annual Ally Challenge on Sunday. Quigley played bogey-free, making clutch par-save putts at Nos. 16 and 17.

Quigley, who became Champions Tour-eligible one year ago this month, never won on the PGA Tour, but is seeking his second on the 50-and-older circuit, having won at the Morocco Champions in February, about a month before the shutdown.

He'll take a one-stroke lead into the final round, over Jim Furyk, 50, making his Champions Tour debut, as well as Carlos Franco, 55, and Tommy Armour III, 60.

For Furyk, who still plays on the PGA Tour, dazzling at Warwick Hills is nothing new. He made a small fortune, more than $2 million, during his career at the old Buick Open on the PGA Tour. In 15 starts at the Buick, he had one win, eight top-10s and never missed the cut. In 62 career rounds at Warwick Hills, including the two this week, he's finished over par just one time.

On Saturday, he shot a 6-under 66, thanks to birdies on three of the four par-5s.

"Everyone likes going back to places where they have had success," said Furyk, who is trying to become the 19th player to win in his debut on the Champions Tour — which debuted 40 years ago — and the first since Miguel Angel Jimenez in 2014.

ALLY CHALLENGE LEADERBOARD

He's the biggest name on the leaderboard, but Sunday figures to be a shootout — as it often is on the Champions Tour, which plays most of its tournaments at three rounds instead of four — with 21 players within five shots of the lead.

Armour has to the biggest surprise, given he only got into the field Monday when Brandt Jobe tested positive for COVID-19. He's also never won in 214 Champions Tour starts, but he followed up his opening 66 with a 68. Like Furyk and Quigley, he was bogey-free.

Also getting in Monday, albeit through a qualifier at Spring Meadows Country Club in Linden, was Franco, who might be little-known, but once had the game to be in the top 20 in the Official World Golf Ranking. He matched Quigley for the round of the day, at 64.

That included two eagles, at the par-5 seventh and 13th holes. In the first round, he only had two birdies.

"That's much better," said Franco, who made birdie at the tough 18th for his 64. He played the four par-5s at 5 under on Saturday.

Glen Day, 54, was two shots off the lead at 9 under, as he seeks his first Champions Tour victory, to match the one he had on the PGA Tour.

Woody Austin and Wes Short Jr. were another shot back, at 8 under. Austin, like Furyk, has made bank over the years at Warwick Hills, with a win and seven top-10s in 15 appearances at the Buick Open.

The logjam starts at 7 under, including Champions Tour legend Bernhard Langer, who stumbled to a 70 on Saturday, defending champion Jerry Kelly and a slimmed-down Colin Montgomerie. The group at 6 under was headlined by four former major champions in Ernie Els, Retief Goosen, Tom Lehman and David Toms.

In other words, Sunday will be no time to play it safe — with the shots, not the mask.

"I think I mentioned to John Cook when we were walking off 17 today, I was trying to shoot 20 under the front nine yesterday," said Quigley, whose mind this week has been split between the restart and back home in Florida, where a big storm is approaching. After Saturday's round, he planned to call home, have his latest meal in his car, and devour one of the three books he brought with him this week.

"I was just trying to force everything after being off for so long.

"And then came out today and played a little bit more like I'm capable of playing."

Quigley bogeyed his first hole Friday, and hasn't made one since.

Notably, suburban Sarnia, Ontario, native Mike Weir, making his Champions Tour debut, was at 5 under. Lake Orion native Tom Gillis was at 4 under, following up his opening 67 with a second-round 73, which he only salvaged with a birdie from off the green at the par-3 17th. Gillis started with a birdie at No. 1, but a wayward driver caught with him throughout the second round Saturday. Gillis was joined at 4 under by first-round co-leader Billy Andrade, who shot 74. John Daly was at even par after a second-round 75.

Sunday's final round will air on the Golf Channel, starting at 3 p.m.

tpaul@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @tonypaul1984

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