Meet the 5 newest PGA TOUR Champions members
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Written by Kevin Prise @PGATOURKevin
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Richard Green has won three times on the DP World Tour and ranked as high as No. 29 in the world. Just one thing was missing on his resume. He had never played a full season in the United States.
The 51-year-old Australian made amends at Final Stage of the PGA TOUR Champions Qualifying Tournament. Green carded a four-round total of 18 under at TPC Scottsdale (Champions) to finish four clear of Wes Short, Jr., for medalist honors. With five PGA TOUR Champions cards available at Final Stage, it was more than enough to punch his full-time ticket to the circuit.
Green and Short join Tim O’Neal, Brian Cooper and David McKenzie as players to earn 2023 PGA TOUR Champions status via Final Stage of Q-School. The top five at Final Stage (no ties) gain access into all open, full-field events on PGA TOUR Champions next season. (Finishers 6-30 and ties earn PGA TOUR Champions Associate Membership, gaining access into weekly event qualifiers).
“It means everything,” said Green of earning PGA TOUR Champions membership. “I’ve had a long career playing overseas in Europe and I’ve wanted to always play in America. I tried my best to get a card on the PGA TOUR in the 2000s and just fell short all the time. It’s like a goal achieved, so that’s a big deal.”
Green geared up for Q-School by competing on the European Senior Tour this summer, winning twice at the Jersey Legends and WINSTONgolf Senior Open. He cruised through his First Stage site in Mesquite, Nevada, with a 21-under total, a whopping 12 strokes clear of the field. He didn’t miss a beat this week in the Phoenix metroplex, carding rounds of 68-65-68-65 to assume an all-important spot in the top five, with medalist honors to boot.
Short, Jr., 59, has long professed a goal of playing 10 seasons on PGA TOUR Champions. Short, a two-time PGA TOUR Champions winner, achieved his goal with a 14-under effort at TPC Scottsdale. The Texas native spent time as a club pro early in his career before gaining status on the Korn Ferry Tour and then the PGA TOUR, on which he won the 2005 Shriners Children’s Open. Now his journey in professional golf continues.
Drama existed around the all-important top-five number, with a playoff looking inevitable at several points throughout the day. The cut line stood 12 under into the final round, but at one point drifted back to 10 under as the tension built. Players turned on the jets on the back nine, though, led by veteran pro Tim O’Neal, who began the day at 7 under but carded 6-under 65 to post 13 under in the clubhouse. Australian pro David McKenzie matched 13 under one group later, followed by Pittsburgh native Brian Cooper in the subsequent group.
Several players had a chance to post 13 under and force a playoff – including England’s Simon Griffiths, Colombia’s Jesus Rivas and Massachusetts’ Fran Quinn – but none managed to do so.
The Q-School success marks an appreciative change in narrative for O’Neal, who narrowly missed at PGA TOUR Q-School on multiple occasions and never earned a TOUR card. Now he’s
set to compete against some of the game’s greats on a season-long basis. McKenzie and Cooper both earned their PGA TOUR Champions cards in emotional fashion – McKenzie in tribute to his younger brother Justin, who passed away last fall, and Cooper after a public battle with depression earlier this year.
Here's a capsule look at the five players to gain access into all open, full-field events on the 2023 PGA TOUR Champions, beginning at the Chubb Classic in Naples in February.
Richard Green (medalist, 18 under)
Hometown: Geelong, Australia (outside Melbourne)
PGA TOUR starts: 43
Best finish: T4, 2007 The Open Championship
PGA TOUR Champions starts: 3
Best finish: T41, 2022 The Senior Open Championship presented by Rolex
Wes Short, Jr. (solo second, 14 under)
Hometown: Austin, Texas
PGA TOUR starts: 94
Best finish: Win, 2005 Shriners Children’s Open
PGA TOUR Champions starts: 213
Best finish: Win, twice
Tim O’Neal (T3, 13 under)
Hometown: Savannah, Georgia
PGA TOUR starts: 8
Best finish: N/A
PGA TOUR Champions starts: 2
Best finish: T19, 2022 PURE Insurance Championship
David McKenzie (T3, 13 under)
Hometown: Melbourne, Australia
PGA TOUR starts: 29
Best finish: Seventh, 2006 Valero Texas Open
PGA TOUR Champions starts: 102
Best finish: Runner-up, twice
Brian Cooper (T3, 13 under)
Hometown: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
PGA TOUR starts: 0
PGA TOUR Champions starts: 10
Best finish: T43, 2019 Principal Charity Classic
Kevin Prise is an associate editor for PGATOUR.COM. He is on a lifelong quest to break 80 on a course that exceeds 6,000 yards and to see the Buffalo Bills win a Super Bowl. Follow Kevin Prise on Twitter.