Gillis takes long way to BMW Championship

By Associated PressSeptember 9, 2010, 3:35 am
BMW ChampionshipLEMONT, Ill. – Living off fast food and pocket change as you chase a dream from one small tour stop to another is easy – romantic, even – when you’re young and have no responsibilities.

At 39, with one small child and another on the way, Tom Gillis wasn’t sure he had it in him again.

“We went back to Michigan and spoke with a few people about work, and times were tough there. There wasn’t a lot of opportunities,” he said Wednesday. “Snow and three months in the cold weather, I found this isn’t so bad.”

Good thing.

Three years after nearly quitting, the 42-year-old Gillis is enjoying a resurgence that seems more suited for Hollywood than the PGA Tour. The guy who couldn’t keep his card still has a shot at a $10 million payoff along with Tiger, Phil and the rest of the game’s biggest names.

Gillis is at this week’s BMW Championship thanks to a fifth-place finish at the Deutsche Bank Championship, his third top 10 of the season. He has earned $1.07 million this year – more than his career earnings on the PGA Tour coming into the season.

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Tom Gillis finished T-5 at the Deutsche Bank Championship, his highest finish of 2010. (Getty Images)
“I thought I was going to make a comeback,” he said, “but do you really know how far you’re going to get? Are you going to get this far?”

Gillis turned pro after college, working his way up on the satellite and European tours before earning his card in 2003. He missed the 2004 season because of a broken wrist, but opened 2005 with a tie for 11th at the Buick Invitational. His play the next few months wasn’t spectacular, but it was steady enough.

Then he and his wife found out they were expecting their first child.

“It froze me up a little bit,” Gillis said.

After tying for 17th at the Zurich Classic the first week of May, he made just five cuts the rest of the year. Playing on the Nationwide Tour the next season, his heart wasn’t in his game. He made only six cuts; three years after earning more than $400,000, he made less than $45,000.

The next year wasn’t any better.

“I guess I never really welcomed the opportunity to get back out here,” Gillis said. “I never really accepted that I was there after playing five years in Europe. It felt like a step down to me, and I lost my status.”

After that winter of shivering – and soul searching – in Michigan, Gillis decided to give golf one more try. He moved to Florida full-time, began working with a new coach and changed his technique so he was no longer digging so deep into the dirt, which had caused repeated hand injuries. He also rethought the way he approached the game mentally.

By last year, Gillis was playing better than ever. He finished in the top 10 in eight of his 15 starts on the Nationwide Tour (he missed just two cuts all year), and got his first career victory at the Nationwide Tour Players Cup.

Best of all, he finished fifth on the money list, earning his way back onto the PGA Tour.

Gillis showed flashes of what he could do at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, shooting 69 or better in all four rounds on his way to a tie for eighth. He was in line for a strong finish at Quail Hollow until the last two holes (he still tied for 17th) and followed it with a top 10 at the Texas Open.

A missed cut at The Barclays put his spot in the FedEx Cup race in jeopardy, but a 65-65 finish in Boston bumped him up to 48th in the standings, more than enough to get him to Chicago.

The top 30 after the BMW advance to the Tour Championship, which will be played in two weeks in Atlanta.

It’s a great story, but one Gillis hopes isn’t finished just yet.

“I still feel like I’ve got further to go,” he said. “I know for a fact and I believe in my heart I can win out here.”

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Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.

Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.