Lake Orion's Tom Gillis (67) surges to third place in Champions Tour debut

Tony Paul
The Detroit News
Tom Gillis, pictured during his PGA Tour days, was tied for third in his Champions Tour debut, entering the final round Sunday.

It took Tom Gillis exactly 100 events to earn his first top-three finish on the PGA Tour.

It might just take him one to do the same on the Champions Tour.

Gillis fired a second consecutive 5-under 67 on Saturday, and was tied for third place entering Sunday's final round of the 3M Championship at TPC Twin Cities in Blaine, Minn. A victory appears like a serious long shot, given Kenny Perry was at 18 under after firing a 60 on Saturday, but a good finish still is very much in play for Gillis.


Gillis is making his Champions Tour debut, after turning 50 last month.

"Very pleased with my game," Gillis, of Lake Orion, told The Detroit News late Saturday. "Was hoping to be a bit closer to the lead after day's end, however I knew going into this that the scoring is very low.

"Majority of the time, around 18 under wins for three days. This week, 18 under is leading after two days. Crazy."

More:Michigan's Tom Gillis, now 50, takes aim at Champions Tour

Gillis was in a three-way tie at 10 under with Lee Janzen and Jerry Smith, the first-round leader. Glen Day was at 13 under, five shots back, and in second place.

A group of four players was at 9 under, led by Tom Lehman, and another group of three was at 8 under, led by Rocco Mediate.

Gillis has been playing good golf lately, with a top-three showing in a mini-tour event in North Carolina, followed by him winning his Champions Tour qualifier Tuesday. In a practice round Monday, he shot a 60. He's carried that good play over to the Champions Tour, with a pair of 67s. Saturday's round was more up and down than Friday's, with eight birdies and three bogeys.

Gillis, who became Champions Tour-eligible in the middle of the season, is trying to rack up enough good showings so he can avoid qualifying school in the fall. A strong finish Sunday should get him into some upcoming tournaments, and could also make him a strong sponsor-exemption candidate. He already has received an exemption into the inaugural Ally Challenge, in Grand Blanc in September.

He won more than $5 million during his days on the PGA Tour, which spanned from 1993 to 2016. His best finishes were a pair of runner-ups, one in which he lost in a playoff to Jordan Spieth in 2015.