Short Jr. takes medalist honors at Champions Tour q-schooltext sizeWes Short Jr. tied a Champions Tour record for a four-round qualifier at 20 under.November 22, 2013
By Champions Tour staff
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Neither rain, nor near-sleet, nor gloomy skies, could keep Wes Short Jr. (Austin, Texas) from his appointed final round. After a three-hour rain delay at the start, Short battled through adverse weather conditions and then near darkness late in the day to win the 2013 Champions Tour National Qualifying Tournament at the par-71 Champions Course at TPC Scottsdale. With temperatures only reaching the low 60s, Short, the 36- and 54-hole leader, posted a 3-under 68 in a steady afternoon drizzle on Friday and his 72-hole total of 20-under 264, tied an all-time Champions Tour record for a four-round qualifier, originally set by Jeff Freeman at this same venue two years ago.
Short Jr. easily outdistanced both Mike Reid (Westminister, Md.) and Canadian Jim Rutledge (Victoria, B.C.) by five strokes, earning him medalist honors by the largest margin in a National Qualifier since Bob Gilder waltzed to a record seven-stroke victory in 2000 at Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
Short birdied three of his first four holes and never looked back, holing nine-foot birdie putts at Nos. 1, 3, 4. He enjoyed as much as a six-stroke lead midway through the front nine and then played the back nine in 1-under to coast to an easy win. The 2005 Michelin Championship at Las Vegas champion on the PGA TOUR, Short turns 50 on Dec. 4 and will enjoy fully-exempt status on the 2014 Champions Tour.
“I didn’t think we’d finish today even if we managed to get started which didn’t look like it was going to happen early. It really helped me to get off to the start that I did. It allowed me to play more conservative the rest of the way, especially near the end,” Short said. “This was a rough year this year. I missed so much competitive golf and really haven’t been in golf shape for about the last six years. I really prepared hard for this q-school and felt like my game was back in pretty good shape when I got here this week. I’m now really looking forward to the Champions Tour.”
Rutledge started the day outside the top 12 and was looking at having no exempt status for 2014 before he teed off. However, after turning in 2-under 33, the Canadian made four birdies on the back nine to shoot 65, equalling the low round of the day, and he quickly movet up the leaderboard into an eventual T2, the fourth straight year he’s finished among the top eight at the National Qualifier. Rutledge also finished T2 at TPC Scottsdale in 2011.
Reid, a two-time major championship winner on the Champions Tour, regained fully-exempt status for the 2014 season after making just seven appearances this past year due to his limited status from the combined-career (PGA TOUR/Champions Tour) money list. This week, Reid strung together four straight rounds in the 60s and was steady down the stretch on Friday, playing his last 15 holes bogey-free and in 3-under.
The last two fully-exempt spots, as well as several conditionally-exempt positions, were decided in playoffs on Saturday morning. Scott Dunlap (Duluth, Ga.) and Jeff Hart (Solona Beach, Calif.) secured the fourth and fifth positions after both made pars on the first playoff hole. Greg Bruckner (Phoenix, Ariz.) earned the sixth position with a par on the third extra hole while Willie Wood (Edmond, Okla.) secured the seventh spot after making a bogey on the third playoff hole. Doug Garwood (Stevenson Ranch, Calif.), who three-putted the final green on Friday to make bogey and drop back into the five-way playoff, ended up eighth after hitting his drive out of bounds and making double-bogey on the second playoff hole.
Several other conditional spots were decided on the first playoff hole when Mark Mouland (Kenilworth, England) made a par for the ninth position, Ben Bates (Pensacola, Fla.) made a bogey for the 10th spot and Jeff Coston (Blaine, Wash.) got the 11th position after making a double-bogey when his drive landed out of bounds. Anders Forsbrand (Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.) did not participate in the playoff as a result of a partial exemption in 2014 from finishing 44th on the 2013 money list.
The remaining players who finished among the top 30 this week will be eligible to compete for spots in open qualifiers at all co-sponsored events on the Champions Tour in 2014.