Tom Gillis helps PGA Tour pal recover $6K wager

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Ben Crane has a long-standing reputation on the PGA Tour for his slow play.

Well, he was a bit too slow in making good on a lost bet, too, at least in the eyes of some — resulting this week in a nasty yet entertaining social-media firestorm, ignited by Lake Orion golfer Tom Gillis.

On Tuesday, Gillis took to Twitter to needle Crane for not paying a months-old $6,000 bill, dating to a lost bet to Daniel Berger in early February.

The bet was paid Thursday, at the Zurich Classic in New Orleans.

“Just me helping a friend out,” said Gillis, a longtime PGA Tour member who’s now coaching high school golf at Pontiac Notre Dame Prep as we waits to become eligible for the 50-and-older Champions Tour.

“That’s what it was. And I’d do it again the same way.”

Gillis, 48, and Berger, 24, have a relationship that dates to when Berger was 14, and working at a golf course in Jupiter, Fla.

After trying to recoup the wager for weeks, Berger called Gillis up in mid-March to ask for some advice. Gillis told him to keep asking a few more times — and even suggested offering, in good faith, Crane a chance to win back some of the bet at a game he rules, ping-pong — before turning to more drastic measures.

Those drastic measures arrived earlier this week, when Gillis went after Crane on Twitter for failing to pay up.

The wager was made during a 45-minute session on a putting green during the week of the week of the Waste Management Phoenix Open in February.

Crane, 41, is the better putter of the two, but Berger actually had him down $9,000 at one point.

Gambling and golfing go hand in hand, from $2 weekend Nassaus on municipal courses between duffers to the best of the best on the PGA Tour. Still, Gillis said the wager was extraordinarily high, and also during one phone call lectured Berger on keeping the bets reasonable.

Tom Gillis came to Ben Crane's aid on the matter of a delinquent debt.

While Crane took some heat this week, Gillis also took his fair share for making the dispute public. He received several angry replies on Twitter, and fielded more than one phone call, too.

But Gillis stands by his actions. He said he hasn’t heard from Crane said the wager was made good, and added, “I won’t be hearing from Ben Crane.”

Crane spoke to Golf Digest on Thursday in New Orleans.

“He wasn’t there,” Crane told Golf Digest, speaking of Gillis. “He has no idea what happened. There’s no reason for me to defend myself. Daniel and I had our conversation and that was it so we’re all good.

“We warmed up next to each other on the range this morning and had a good time.

“I asked him what he wanted to play for.”