Lake Orion's Gillis pleased with Champions Tour debut

Tony Paul
The Detroit News
Tom Gillis tees off on the 12th hole.

There’s a big difference between third-place money on the PGA Tour and third-place money on the Champions Tour.

But $115,000 is still $115,000, nothing to sneeze at. Right, Tom Gillis?

“Hey, when the money hasn’t been coming in for the last two years, $115,000 is pretty darn sweet,” Gillis said with a chuckle. “I’m sitting here at the airport and just ordered a Coors Light and a filet.”

Gillis, of Lake Orion, shot a 5-under 67 on Sunday — his third consecutive 67 — to finish his Champions Tour debut at 15 under and tied for third place at the 3M Championship at TPC Twin Cities in Blaine, Minnesota.

Gillis finished well back of winner Kenny Perry (21 under). Wes Short took second at 18 under, and Gillis and Glen Day tied for third at 15 under.

It was quite the week for Gillis, who turned 50 in mid-July and had to Tuesday qualify just to make the 3M Championship field.

His good showing earns him an automatic spot in the next Champions Tour event, the Dick’s Sporting Good Open in New York in two weeks.

He gets next week off.

“That’s good,” said Gillis, who’s played golf seven days in a row. “That’ll let me get back in the gym.”

Gillis started Sunday well back of Perry, who shot 60 on Saturday to open up a massive lead.

But Perry struggled early while Gillis was 3 under through three on Sunday, thanks to an eagle.

Still, Gillis knew he was a long shot.

“He was so far ahead,” Gillis said of Perry, who won the final 3M Championship — the event shifts to the PGA Tour next year — and his third overall. “It was gonna take 10 under or 11 under or something. And that’s hard to do.”

Still, Gillis took a lot of positives out of the week — outside of the nice payday.

He was pleased with how he held up physically after playing so much golf, and he was pleased with how he drove the ball — averaging well over 300 yards, a tribute to his three-a-week gym sessions.

He also said he was pleased with his composure, especially Sunday, in crunch time and in the final group — a scenario he hasn’t seen himself in years. He hasn’t played on the PGA Tour since 2016, and hasn’t contended there since 2015.

“It’s the biggest stage I’ve been on in a couple years,” Gillis said before boarding his flight to Flint. “I was very pleased.”