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Wes Short Jr. accomplishes 10-year plan

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Tour Insider

Finished runner-up at Final Stage of Q-School to earn full 2023 status

    Written by Bob McClellan

    After finishing in the top 36 in the Charles Schwab Cup standings in each of his first seven seasons on PGA TOUR Champions, Wes Short Jr.’s streak came crashing to a halt in 2022.

    An April back injury and a summer bout with COVID-19 cost him one tournament and left him weak to the point where he probably shouldn’t have played. But he tried to power through it and his results suffered badly.

    Consequently, Short finished 57th in the Charles Schwab Cup standings. Anyone outside the top 36 has limited status; it’s even less outside the top 54. Short was told he’d probably have access to less than five tournaments in 2023, meaning he’d have to Monday qualify and/or write letters seeking sponsor exemptions.

    Or, he could return to Q-School and battle 77 other players for five fully exempt spots for the 2023 season.

    “I had good memories of Q-School, and I wanted to be able to pick my own schedule and not have to worry about Monday qualifying or sponsor exemptions,” Short said this week. “I’ve been out here a long time and played against the best. Not to say the guys at Q-School aren’t good players, but they haven’t faced (Bernhard) Langer or (Fred) Couples like I have.”

    So it was, at the age of 59, that the Texas native, a two-time winner on PGA TOUR Champions, faced down Q-School once again. And he came up big, just as he had when he as the medalist ahead of his rookie season in 2014. Short shot four rounds in the 60s and finished second, securing his spot for his ninth season and 10th year on the Champions Tour.

    “That was one goal I had set for myself when this whole thing started was to play for 10 years, play till I was 60,” Short said. “So now I can do that.”

    By the time Q-School came in December, Short felt he was 100% healthy. It was in stark contrast to most of his season, which faced its first setback in April before the ClubCorp Classic in Dallas. Short was hanging out at his home in Austin, Texas, with his in-laws. He was sitting out back when his father-in-law passed out.

    “It was heat exhaustion, but I thought he died, to tell you the truth,” Short said. “I picked him up off the ground and extended my arms to put him in a chair, and my back just went.”

    Look through Short’s 2022 results and you can see the downturn. Through the first five events he had finished no worse than 36th. He tied for 63rd in Dallas and had to withdraw the next week after the first round of the Insperity Invitational in Houston.

    The bout with COVID cost him traveling to the Shaw Charity Classic in Canada, an event he won in 2019. He felt weak for most of the rest of the season until the final two events.

    Short’s putting average took a major hit. An above-average putter for his Champions Tour career, Short’s putting average hit a career-low 58th place in 2022.

    SeasonPutting averageRank

    “Putting seems to be the worst thing when my back hurts,” Short said. “It’s the most you bend over, to putt. I couldn’t even practice putting. It was by far my worst year putting. I consider myself a pretty decent putter, and last year was not good.

    “My chipping was horrible, too. The last five tournaments I went to one-handed chipping. And at Q-School.”

    Short said his teacher often had him chip with just his left hand to get a feel for how the club should pass through the ball at impact. It wasn’t done with the idea that he’d use that method in competition, but Short got to a point where he was much more comfortable without his right hand on the club.

    “I felt like my chipping really improved when I went to one hand,” Short said. “My right hand wants to take over too much. … The other thing when I chip one-handed, I don’t think about hitting a bad chip. I put the right hand on there; I already know I’m gonna chili-dip it.”

    Short said he’ll start this year with his right hand on the club when he’s chipping. But if it goes south, he said he won’t hesitate to go back to chipping with one hand.

    “It was great to make my goal there at Q-School,” Short said. “I played really good. It felt good to play well when it mattered. It had been a while. You kind of start thinking, ‘Am I getting terrible? Is my age catching up with me?’ Then you see Langer and Couples and they won this year, and they’re in their 60s.

    “I feel 100%. I’m looking forward to getting out there.”