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Tuesday, June 14, 2016
By Ron Driscoll, USGA
Wes Short Jr., 52, is the oldest player to ever advance into the U.S. Open out of local and sectional qualifying. What makes it sweeter is that Short, of Austin, Texas, never got into the championship before this week, although he first attempted to qualify in 1982, at age 18.
“After all these years, I didn’t know if I was ever going to play in one,” said Short, who has competed in two U.S. Senior Opens and plays on the PGA Tour Champions. “I had actually been in a couple of playoffs, I think 2006 or 2007 was the last time. I just think I can still play a little bit so I keep trying to qualify.”
Short played a little bit on June 6, shooting a combined 7-under-par 135 (69-66) in Powell, Ohio, to tie for fifth among 13 players to advance to Oakmont. It had taken a playoff to get to Ohio, as Short shot 70 and earned his way into the sectional out of a 6-for-5 playoff at The Hills Country Club in his hometown.
“People that I grew up playing golf with, like [2015 U.S. Senior Open champion] Jeff Maggert and Omar Uresti, kept me motivated,” said Short. “I wish I’d have done it a little bit earlier in life, but sometimes things are meant to happen a little later.”
Short prepared for Oakmont by competing in the Senior Players Championship last week, where he finished fifth. He asked Rocco Mediate, the runner-up in the 2008 U.S. Open, for tips.
“[Rocco] said to hit it straight and practice a lot of 8-footers,” said Short.