Golf notes: Two MSU alums make LPGA Tour; Tom Gillis' season comes to end

Tony Paul
The Detroit News
Liz Nagel, from DeWitt, has earned her LPGA Tour card for 2020.

Two Michigan State alums have reached the big team in women's golf, earning cards for the 2020 LPGA Tour season.

Sarah Burnham will have LPGA Tour status for a second consecutive season, and Liz Nagel will be an LPGA Tour rookie.

Both were among the 45 players who advanced out of the LPGA's Q-Series, a grueling, multi-stage tournament that began in mid-October and concluded over the weekend in Pinehurst, N.C.

Nagal finished the final, eight-round stage at 1 under and tied for 16th, while Burnham was even par and tied for 20th.

Burnham played at Michigan State from 2014-18, was a two-time Big Ten player of the year and a three-time All-American. She played in 15 LPGA Tour events this season, her best showing a tie for ninth in Portland in late August. She struggled early in her rookie season, missing her first five cuts; but she made her last five.

Nagel, from DeWitt, played at Michigan State from 2010-14 and was a two-time All-Big Ten selection. She's been playing for five years on the Symetra Tour, the LPGA Tour's equivalent of the PGA Tour's Korn Ferry Tour, a minor league of sorts.

The LPGA Tour's 2019 season wraps up later this month with the Tour Championship, then the 2020 season starts in January.

The LPGA Tour has two tournaments scheduled for Michigan, the Meijer LPGA Classic in Grand Rapids in June and a team event, the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational, in Midland in July.

Burnham and Nagel give the state of Michigan five full-time members of the top golf tours in the United States, with Jackson's Brian Stuard (Oakland) and Traverse City's Ryan Brehm (Michigan State) on the PGA Tour, and Lake Orion's Tom Gillis on the Champions Tour.

Sarah Burnham, a Michigan State alum, is on the LPGA Tour.

Gillis misses out

A long and draining season is over for Gillis on the Champions Tour.

Gillis entered the week's tournament in California on the bubble to make the Charles Schwab Cup championship, but just missed out.

Gillis finished 40th in the standings, four spots out of the top 36, which advances to the championship tournament.

Gillis looked good early to make the final, opening with a 5-under 67 at the Invesco QQQ Championship, but faded with a 72 Saturday and a 73 Sunday.

Still, Gillis, 51, has done more than enough to keep his card for a third season on the 50-and-older circuit. Despite a slow start to the season that included multiple WDs, he had four top-10s and nine top-25s, and he was in the hunt deep into the weekend several times in the second half of the season.

September was especially fruitful, with nine rounds in the 60s, two fourth-place finishes, a tie for seventh and a tie for 18th.

In two seasons on the Champions Tour — last year was abbreviated, as he didn't turn 50 until July — he's earned more than $1 million.

Now, Gillis is eager for some time off with his family, at his new home in Jupiter, Fla. The move from Lake Orion to Florida was made in the middle of his season, quite the distraction to his game.

Michigan golf in 2020 

Here's a look at the big-time golf tournaments set for Michigan in 2020:


May 28-31: Rocket Mortgage Classic, Detroit Golf Club


May 21-24: Senior PGA Championship, Harbor Shores, Benton Harbor

July 31-Aug. 2: Ally Challenge, Warwick Hills, Grand Blanc


June 11-14: Meijer LPGA Classic, Blythefield Country Club, Belmont

July 15-18: Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational, Midland Country Club

Twitter: @tonypaul1984