Grandville golfer Tom Werkmeister is preparing for another grind-it-out season on the Champions Tour.
Werkmeister finished tied for 18th at the final stage of Champions Tour Qualifying School this week in Lutz, Fla., which left him short of earning his full-time card for 2019.
But he will have some conditional status, meaning he gets into the Monday and Tuesday qualifiers prior to that week's tournament, just as he had in 2018.
In four rounds at Q-school, he shot rounds of 72, 70, 70 and 75.
Werkmeister, 50, a Warren native, bopped from coast to coast in 2018, trying his hand at qualifiers, and he made four tournaments, earning just less than $30,000 in his first year as a professional — after a long, decorated amateur career in Michigan.
One of those tournaments was the inaugural Ally Challenge in Grand Blanc in September, when he finished tied for 46th, earning $7,200.
Ally gives big
Big-time golf's return to Grand Blanc was a boon for local charities.
This week, Ally Challenge officials announced the tournament at Warwick Hills Golf & Country Club raised $801,060.41 for charities.
They cut the checks this week, including $365,000 to each of the primary beneficiaries — Junior Achievement of Southeastern Michigan and Community Foundation of Greater Flint.
“By all accounts, the inaugural tournament was a triumph for this community,” Alison Summerville, business administration executive and head of Corporate Citizenship at Ally, said in a statement. “The legacy of The Ally Challenge ... will live on for years to come through the great work of the Community Foundation of Greater Flint and Junior Achievement of Southeastern Michigan.”
The inaugural tournament was won by Paul Broadhurst, who pulled off the Michigan double-dip — earlier having won the Senior PGA Championship at Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor.
Waiting on LPGA
The 2019 LPGA Tour schedule is due out soon, and it'll be interesting from a Michigan perspective.
It is known the state will have two LPGA Tour events in 2019, one near Grand Rapids and an inaugural, two-person team tournament in Midland.
But there is some doubt about whether the LPGA Tour will return to Travis Pointe in Ann Arbor for a fourth year. Title sponsor Volvik hasn't yet committed beyond its original three-year contract.
Here's what we know for sure about big-time golf in Michigan in 2019:
►June 13-16: LPGA Tour, Meijer LPGA Classic, Blythefield Country Club, Belmont.
►June 27-30: PGA Tour, Rocket Mortgage Classic, Detroit Golf Club.
►July 17-20: LPGA Tour, Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitation, Midland Country Club.
►Sept. 13-15: Champions Tour, Ally Challenge, Warwick Hills Golf & Country Club, Grand Blanc.
Tom Gillis is on the move.
The Lake Orion native and wife Jenny recently bought a home in Jupiter, Fla. Gillis will start living down there this winter so he can practice for his 2019 Champions Tour season, with the rest of the family following once the school year lets out.
Gillis, 50, just completed his first season on the 50-and-older circuit, and had an impressive run. He played in only eight events, because of a late birthday (July), and still finished 40th in the Charles Schwab Cup points standings. That left him just outside the bubble of earning full-time status for 2019, but he still has secured himself at least 20 starts for next season. In just eight starts, he earned $620,660.
Gillis finished tied for third in his first two events, and had a tie for fifth, two ties for sixth and a tie for 11th.
Chips & divots
It's been a tough run lately for Michigan's two current PGA Tour members: Petoskey's Joey Garber and Jackson's Brian Stuard. Gerber, in his first year on the PGA Tour, has missed the cut in his first three tournaments, while Stuard has missed four consecutive cuts.