Wes Short Jr. was quietly lurking on the leader board heading into the final round of the Shaw Charity Classic, just one stroke off the pace but not the name most were paying attention to. That’s just fine with the 55-year-old, who pounced late on Sunday afternoon, making three birdies over the final five holes, including the clincher on the 18th, to shoot a closing four-under 66 and win for only the second time in his six-year PGA Tour Champions career.
Short’s previous victory came four years, 11 months and 25 days earlier at the 2014 Quebec Championship. In the meantime, the Austin, Texas, native has three second-place showings and 28 top-10 finishes.
To grab win No. 2, however, required one of the most fortunate breaks of Short’s career. Tied for the lead at 12 under with Tom Gillis, also in the final threesome, and Scott McCarron, who made eagle on the last for a closing 65, Short was trying to reach the green in two on the par-5 home hole at Canyon Meadows Golf & Country Club in Calgary but knew just after the ball came off the face of his 3-wood that he hit it thin.
“When I saw it in the air,” Short said, “I was thinking I hope it just carries the water because I know it’s not getting to the green.”
Actually, though, it did, thanks to an amazing kick off a rock along a hazard that his ball looked certain to be lost in. Words aren’t enough to describe the good fortune with the bounce that Short’s ball got. See for yourself:
Short then two-putted from roughly 50 feet for the birdie that gave him the win as Gillis was making a mess of the final hole, finishing with a double-bogey 7 to fall into solo fourth place behind Steve Flesch, the 36-hole leader who closed with a 69 to finish third.
At one point early on Sunday, Short held a share of the lead after making three birdies on his first six holes. But bogeys on the seventh and 13th holes made it look like it wasn’t meant to be , Gillis seemingly seizing control of the event with four birdies over his first 15 holes to jump to 13 under. Meanwhile, McCarron, the two-time defending champion trying to become the eighth player to ever three-peat in a PGA Tour Champions event, bogeyed the 16th and 17th holes, but made the late eagle to apply pressure during a chilly Sunday in Canada.
Short, however, pressed on to take the title. The win bumped him from 44th in the Charles Schwab Cup standings prior to the event to 19th with four tournaments remaining until the three-tournament playoff series begins. It also validated the time Short has been putting into his game over the years, even if the tournament titles hadn’t followed.
“Finally, all the hard work you put into this stupid game comes to the top and it makes it, all your efforts, see what you’ve done with them,” said Short, whose 13-under 197 set a career-low score for him on the PGA Tour Champions. “I had some chances to win and haven’t done it. It’s hard to win out here. It seems like McCarron and all them have a pretty easy time of it, but for most of us it’s not that easy. I’ve had some of my chances and you’ve got to take advantage of your chances, and today I did. I played pretty solid golf today.”