Wes Short Jr. of Austin qualified Monday for his first-ever U.S. Open next week at Oakmont Country Club.
The 52-year-old secured his spot Monday at Wedgewood Golf and Country Club in Columbus, Ohio. Short competed against 103 other players for only 13 open spots in the national championship. What is called “Golf’s Longest Day,” otherwise known as U.S. Open sectional qualifying, is an intense 36-hole qualifying test held at 10 different courses across the country. Monday, more than 740 golfers played in attempt to seal one of the 55 or 60 spots typically open in the 156-player U.S. Open.
Short went into the qualifier with confidence.
“I’ve been playing a lot this year on the seniors tour, so in that aspect I’ve been playing a lot,” Short said. “I thought if I played well I could get a spot. I knew there were a lot of good players there, tour players are there, a lot of good amateurs, but I figured if I played good, you know there’s 13 spots, I should be able to get one…or I would think so.”
Short did play well. Tying for fifth place at -7, he secured his spot in the major. It was an impressive feat, considering Short had never seen or played the course and was running on only three hours of sleep.
Two days prior to the qualifier, Short was in Iowa playing in the Principal Charity Classic. He reached his hotel in Ohio Sunday night after 2 a.m. and had to be up before 5 a.m. to get to the course. A two-hour weather delay pushed the 36-hole round further into the evening. Short didn’t finish his round until 8:30 p.m. Monday.
“We left this morning (Tuesday) early and came to Philadelphia for the Senior Players Championship that’s this weekend, so I’m dead tired,” Short said in a telephone interview from Philadelphia, where the Senior Players begins Thursday at Philadelphia Cricket Club. “I’ve had about five hours of sleep in the last three days.”
He sees the Senior Players as a way to get ready for the U.S. Open.
“What’s good about this week is that it’s a major on our tour,” Short said, “so it’s going to be set up a little more like a major so that will kind of help me out for next week.”
Short traveled a long road to get to this point and had been in this position a few times before – the first, 34 years ago. As an 18-year-old high school senior in Austin, he made it through local qualifying for the U.S. Open, but didn’t make the cut in the 36-hole qualifier in Houston.
Short went to the University of Texas for a year, leaving after he and his wife had a daughter. He worked for his father until he became an assistant pro at two country clubs near Austin.
“I didn’t want to be one of those people at 50 years old who said, ‘Hey, I could have made it on the tour,’ which most of the time is a bunch of B.S.,” Short said. “I wanted to go prove it, so that at least when I turned 50, I wasn’t going to be one of them. I would know.”
Short did exactly that.
Short received his PGA Tour card at the age of 40. Two years into his time on the tour, Short got the opportunity to play in the Las Vegas tournament as an alternate and ended up beating Jim Furyk in a playoff. The following year Short missed out on another opportunity to play in the U.S. Open, losing in a playoff.
Short won as a 50-year-old rookie on the PGA Tour Champions in 2014 and has played in the U.S. Senior Open twice, withdrawing the first time in the third round from back pain.
Short has suffered from back issues for years, but has been doing better recently.
“It’s been okay. I think what’s been bad in the last two or three weeks is more of a muscle,” Short said. “It hasn’t been horrible, but it lets me know it’s there sometimes.”
After 34 years, Short is ready for his turn at tackling Oakmont, which is arguably one of the toughest courses in golf.
“I’m very excited and I can’t wait until next week. It’s probably one of the biggest tournaments you can play in so I’m very excited for that.”