Garwood, Dunlap look to catch leader Wes Short Jr. in q-school finaleAfter a third-round 67, Doug Garwood is two back of leader West Short Jr. at TPC Scottsdale.November 21, 2013
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Wes Short, Jr. of Austin, Texas, is long on talent. The PGA TOUR/Web.com Tour veteran recovered from an erratic start to shoot a 5-under 66 Thursday and take a two-stroke lead heading into the final round of the Champions Tour National Qualifying Tournament at TPC Scottsdale’s Champions course. Short has a 54-hole total of 17-under 196 and leads Doug Garwood (Stevenson Ranch, Calf.) by two shots and Scott Dunlap (Duluth, Ga.) by three.
Short, the 36-hole leader by one stroke over Garwood, made an early bogey at No. 2 after a poor drive, but he then birdied the next three before encountering trouble at the par-3 sixth hole. After pulling an 8-iron approach left of the green and getting an unfortunate bounce, he hit a poor chip and then three putted from 45 feet for a double-bogey five. After making a key up-and-down par save from the bunker at the par-3 eighth hole, Short birdied both the par-5 ninth and 10th holes, before closing his round with a birdie from seven feet at the par-3 16th hole and an eagle at the par-5 17th , hitting a second shot with a hybrid to within eight feet of the flag.
“I just made a mess of the sixth hole, but overall I made a few good saves when I really needed to and capitalized on the good shots I hit,” Short said. “I’m proud of myself. I’ll try to keep playing like I have been and we’ll see what happens. I’ve been trying to play smart and take advantage of the par-5s this week and it’s worked out well so far. If it’s just raining tomorrow, I’ll be okay. We will all get used to it.”
Short, who turns 50 on Dec. 4, played on the Web.com Tour off and on beginning in 1998 and finally earned the opportunity to play on the PGA TOUR in 2004 at age 40. His lone TOUR win came in 2005 at the Michelin Championship at Las Vegas, when, after starting the week as an alternate, he eventually defeated Jim Furyk in a playoff. He played this past season on the PGA TOUR through a Major Medical Extension after lingering back issues forced him to the sidelines over the previous three seasons. He made the cut at the 2013 Shell Houston Open, his first made-cut on TOUR since 2007.
Among those currently among the top 10 on the leaderboard are Mike Reid (T4), a winner of two PGA TOUR events and a pair of senior major championships in his career, and Willie Wood (solo seventh) who claimed a pair of Champions Tour titles in 2012, his rookie season on the circuit, but finished 42nd on last year’s money list.
At the end of 72 holes, the top-five finishers earn fully exempt status through the re-order in the 2014 season, while the next seven players will be conditionally exempt. In addition, the top-30 finishers and ties will be eligible to compete for spots in open qualifiers at all co-sponsored events on the Champions Tour in 2014.
With a strong forecast for rain all day Friday, tournament officials have moved up the start of the fourth round. Players will now begin from the 1st and 10th tees at 7:30 a.m., one hour earlier than originally scheduled.
• Phoenix resident Greg Bruckner, a winner on the Web.com Tour at the 1992 New England Classic, shot the low round on Thursday, a 7-under 64, and he vaulted 12 spots into a tie for fourth. Bruckner reeled off seven birdies in a 10-hole stretch during his round, including five straight on Nos. 13-17.
• Brian Cairns made the biggest move of any player in the field, jumping 24 spots into a tie for 17th after posting a 5-under 66.
• Seattle’s Jeff Coston, a winner on the Web.com Tour at the 1991 Shreveport Open who is making his third appearance in a Champions Tour q-school final, continues to climb the leaderboard. After shooting a 1-under 70 in the opening round, Coston rebounded with rounds of 65-67 and has risen from a T42 after the first round to T8.
• Bob Friend (69) has played his last 31 holes without making a bogey. Along with Friend, Doug Garwood (67), Greg Kraft (67) and Jeff Freeman (68) all posted bogey-free rounds today.
• Argentina’s Eduardo Romero has made the most birdies through 54 holes with 20, but he’s also made 10 bogeys, the most by a player among the top-20 on the current leaderboard.
• A total of 12 players have posted three straight rounds in the 60s this week. Last year at the National Qualifier at TPC Eagle Trace, just three players had recorded consecutive sub-par rounds over the first three days
• Gene Jones, the medalist from the national qualifier last year, shot 67 today and is T17
• With slightly more wind and overcast skies, the field scoring average was the highest of the three days. On Thursday the field average was 69.896 compared to 69.628 on Wednesday and 69.410 in the opening round.
• Through the first three rounds, the hardest hole has been the par-4 18th (4.240), yielding just 25 birdies
• Jim Roy withdrew before the start of the third round with kidney stones.
• The medalist at this year’s national qualifier will earn a check for $30,000.