SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Wes Short Jr. 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 by two shots and Scott Dunlap by three.
Short, the 36-hole leader by one stroke over Garwood, made an early bogey at No. 2 after a poor drive, but 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 5.
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. He closed 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.
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“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.”
Among those currently among the top 10 on the leaderboard are Mike Reid (tied for fourth), a winner of two PGA Tour events and a pair of senior majors, 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.