September 9, 2010 by staff
Bmw Championship, Lemont, Illinois (AP) – Living on fast food and pocket change and pursue a dream of a small tour stop to another is easy – romantic, even – when you’re young and have no responsibilities.
At 39, with a small child and another on the way, Tom Gillis was not sure in him again.
“We went back to Michigan and spoke with some people about work, and times were hard there. There were not many opportunities,” he said Wednesday. “The snow and three months in cold weather, I found this is not so bad.”
Three years after nearly quitting, the 42-year-old Gillis is enjoying a resurgence that seems more suited to Hollywood than the PGA Tour. The guy who could not keep his card still has a shot at one and 10 million reward with Tiger, Phil and the rest of the big names in the game.
Gillis is thanks to this week’s BMW Championship in fifth place in the Deutsche Bank Championship, his third top 10 of the season. He has won and 1.07 million this year – more than his career earnings on the PGA Tour season enters.
“I thought it would make a comeback,” he said, “but do you really know how far we go? Are you going to get here? ”
Gillis turned pro after college, working his way up in the satellite and the European circuit before earning his card in 2003. He missed the 2004 season with a broken wrist, but opened 2005 with a tie at 11 at the Buick Invitational. His play in the coming months was not spectacular, but enough remained.
He and his wife learned they were expecting their first child.
“I froze a bit,” said Gillis.
After tying 17 in the Zurich Classic of the first week of May, he made just five cuts the rest of the year. Playing on the Nationwide Tour for next season, his heart was not in his game. He made just six cuts, three years after earning more than $ 400,000, made less than $ 45,000.
The following year was no better.
“I never really welcomed the opportunity to return here,” said Gillis. “I never accepted that I was there after playing five years in Europe. It felt like a step toward me, and I lost my status.”
After the winter chills – and soul searching – in Michigan, Gillis decided to give golf another chance. He moved to Florida full time, began working with a new coach and changed his technique so it was no longer dig as deep into the ground, which caused several injuries in his hand. Also rethink the way he approached the game mentally.
Last year, Gillis was playing better than ever. He finished in the top 10 in eight of his 15 starts on the Nationwide Tour (only missed two cuts all year round), and got his first victory in the National Cup Players Tour.
Best of all, finished fifth on the money list, earning his way back on the PGA Tour.
Gillis showed flashes of what could be done in the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, shooting 69 or better in four rounds on his way to a tie for eighth. He was in line for a good result in up to Quail Hollow the last two holes (which is tied for 17th), followed with a top 10 in the Texas Open.
A missed cut at the Barclays put its place in the FedEx Cup race in danger, but a 65-65 final in Boston moved him to 48th in the standings, more than enough to take him to Chicago.
The top 30 after the advance to the Tour BMW Championship, which will be held within two weeks in Atlanta.
It’s a great story, but it is expected Gillis has not ended yet.
“I still feel like I have more to go,” he said. “I know for a fact and I believe in my heart I can win here.”
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