Tom Gillis, 9 over at Senior PGA, flew home to Detroit. When he landed, he learned he made the cut

Tony Paul
The Detroit News
Tom Gillis and wife Jenny took advantage of his slight gaffe this weekend to enjoy some Memorial Day fun on the lake in Lake Orion.

Cut lines in golf can be tricking things, always moving this way or that way. And on the 50-and-older Champions Tour, players aren't used to them anyway — with only a handful of tournaments, the majors, using them.

So let's give Tom Gillis, in his second year on the Champions Tour, a mulligan, shall we?

Gillis played in this week's Senior PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club in Pittsford, N.Y., and he had his struggles through the first two rounds — shooting rounds of 74 and 75, and finishing 9 over par at the halfway point. And, at the point he walked off the course Friday, he thought it was the end point.

After all, the cut at that time was projected to be 6 over par, and while cut lines can fluctuate until all golfers are off the course, moving more than a stroke either way is rare.

You can understand, then, why Gillis grabbed his clubs and his luggage and headed for the airport in Rochester, N.Y., to fly home to Detroit.

A funny thing happened when he landed in Detroit, though.

Gillis turned on his phone as he departed the plane and saw, to his shock, that he had a tee time Saturday morning at Oak Hill. Turns out, he made the cut on the number, after Oak Hill showed its teeth during the afternoon wave Friday.

"I landed and saw it," said Gillis, "and said, 'Now what?'"

Gillis, who at first didn't want this story told publicly because he was understandably a bit embarrassed, was faced with two choices — get right back on the airplane and head back to Oak Hill and finish the tournament, or withdraw, stay home and enjoy his final Memorial Day weekend at his lakeside home in Lake Orion before moving with his wife and kids to Florida.

Gillis made the decision many of us would've made.

Lake, boat, beers — and family and friends.

"I wasn't going back," Gillis told The News on Sunday, as he enjoyed a holiday gathering with friends and family. "I chose family over golf.

"It was more about spending the weekend with family."

Tom Gillis

Gillis was assessed a WD, a withdrawal, but still will get paid last-place money, even though it won't count on the official Champions Tour money list.

It was Gillis' second consecutive WD, after he pulled out of the Regions Tradition, another four-round major, earlier in the month. That tournament, in Alabama, featured some nasty weather over the weekend and Gillis didn't want to stick around for a Monday finish. He had another WD in March, battling a bout of the flu.

It's been a tough second season on the Champions Tour for Gillis, 50, who has played in six events, WD'd in three of them, and finished tied for 21st, tied for 22nd and tied for 33rd in the other three.

This was after he stormed onto the Champions Tour in 2018, with five top-11s in six tournaments, including a pair of ties for third. That earned him status for 2019.

Gillis, who played several years on the PGA Tour, made more than $5 million in earnings and a few times flirted with a victory, is back on the road Tuesday for the Champions Tour tournament in Iowa, followed the next week by a tournament in Japan.

Twitter: @tonypaul1984