Gilliss Island

By Mercer BaggsSeptember 22, 2000, 4:00 pm
Tom Gillis has fond memories of the Belgacom Open. Two years ago, the American was on the brink of losing his European Tour card when he birdied the 72nd hole in Knokke, Belgium. He finished that week tied for 39th, good enough to maintain his playing privileges by a mere $300.
 
Once again, Gillis is fighting to keep his card. With the top 115 players earning an automatic exemption on the 2001 European Tour, the 32-year-old Michigander stands 106th with three full-field events remaining.
 
This week, Gillis is back in Belgium. And the way things are going; he won't need an 11th-hour miracle. Friday, the American fired a 7-under-par 64 to take a one-shot lead over Padraig Harrington into the third round.
 
At 11-under, Gillis is one shot clear of the Irishman, and three strokes lower than Lee Westwood, Gary Evans, Marc Farry and Roger Wessels.
 
In each of his first two years overseas, Gillis found himself near the Mendoza Line by season's end. 2000 has been no different.
 
After 18 starts, Gillis is inside the top 115, but not by much. And after missing the cut in his last two starts, he could see his 2001 Tour card slipping away.
 
'I was leaking oil again,' said Gillis. 'I felt the same feelings, the same pressures as two years ago. Rather than wait for the Lancome I decided to go home. I was not right in my head. So I put my boat on the back of my truck and drove north to Michigan.
 
'Didn't know where I was going to go - just had to get away. Went to a place called garland Resort where a friend of mine is a pro. They have four golf courses and a bunch of lakes. I caught 11 pike in two days, fished every morning and practiced every afternoon. When I drove out on Saturday, I was thinking right again.'
 
With his head on straight, Gillis reeled off five birdies in six holes for a back-nine 29 on Friday.
 
Gillis is just one of many good storylines entering weekend play.
 
Three shots off the 36-hole lead, Westwood is in prime position to regain first place on the Order of Merit. The Englishman is just $82,000 behind Darren Clarke; and he's guaranteed to make up some ground before next week's German Masters.
 
While Westwood sits comfortably in a tie for third, Clarke is heading home.
 
Clarke shot rounds of 73-73 to miss the cut. But though he may not lead the money list come Sunday afternoon, missing the cut isn't all that bad. The Northern Irishman was able to fly home and care for his wife Heather, who is expecting their second child next week.
 
Another story is that of Roger Wessels. One week ago, the South African shot polar-rounds of 63-81 to fall from first-round leader to weekend spectator.
 
This week, Wessels fired a Friday 64 to move into a tie for third with 36 holes to play.
 
'It was a good week to have a recovery,' said Wessels. 'I kept the good bits from last Thursday and got rid of the bad bits from last Friday.'
 
Belgacom first-round leader Hennie Otto didn't experience a Wessels-like meltdown in the second round, but his 1-over-par 72 dropped the South African into a tie for 13th at 6-under-par.
 

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.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.