...Carolina Golf News Line                          Pine Needles Golf Hole



Southern Pines, NC – Tom Gillis of Oxford, MI survived a four-man playoff in the Pine Needles Classic on Friday with a tournament-clinching birdie on the third extra hole to claim his first eGolf Tarheel Tour title and the $30,000 winner’s check.

When Tom Gillis turned professional in 1990, he likely had no idea what lay on the lengthy road ahead. A career full of chasing the dream, achieving the dream and chasing it again took Gillis to over 26 countries and countless tours, including the PGA Tour in 2003 and 2005. Gillis spent eight years toiling on various tours before earning his European Tour card in 1998 and keeping it for four years before his first stint on the big tour. After losing his PGA Tour card, he regained it in 2005 and is now a conditional player on the Nationwide Tour, meaning he has to play well out there to stay out there. If this week was any indication, he might be out there for a while.

Gillis entered the final round trailing overnight leader Emmett Turner by five shots with a testy Mid Pines track on the horizon. Quick greens and steady wind set the stage for high scores as the Donald Ross design proved to be a cruel mistress on Friday. Turner, playing alongside Chris Kirk and William McGirt in the day’s final pairing, found the going slow but steady with a birdie and a bogey in his first 12 holes before a bogey at the long par-3 13th brought him back to the pack.

While Turner was failing to run away with the event, Gillis and former junior phenom Michael Henderson were making their moves. Gillis overcame an early bogey with five birdies from Nos. 6-14 to fly up the leaderboard and apply pressure to Turner.

Henderson, who grew up in nearby Raleigh, NC and rivaled Tiger Woods in talent and accolades as a precocious teenager, backed up three early birdies with two bogeys on Nos. 8 and 11 before storming back with birdies on 12 and 15 to be the first player to post at 7-under 204.

Henderson’s 54-hole total seemed to be on the outside looking in before bogeys on Nos. 15 and 17 for Gillis brought him back into a tie for the clubhouse lead.

Turner and Kirk played much the same tune as the rest of the field coming down the stretch. For Kirk, it was a three-putt bogey at 14 and a costly bogey at 17 that dropped him to 7-under, where he would finish. However, it was a bit of luck that kept the hopes alive for the trio of players at 204.

Turner, who held a one-shot lead coming to the scenic par-4 18th, blocked his drive roughly 40 yards right of the fairway and played a miraculous shot just to get in front of the green. A delicate pitch over a knob wound up three feet above the hole and offered the Greenwood, SC native a glimpse at his first professional win after a stellar college career at Augusta State. After backing off the putt three times, Turner’s effort barely missed the hole and set up the four-person playoff with Gillis, Kirk and Henderson.

“I pitched up and thought it was two feet to the right at first, but then walked up and saw it was a little more than I wanted,” said Turner, who spent two minutes between regulation and the playoff hitting short putts on the practice green, likely trying to rebuild any lost confidence.

All four players hit the green in regulation on the first extra hole, the par-4 first. After Henderson’s birdie putt narrowly missed the hole, Gillis stared a 30-foot right-to-left curler into the hole to set the standard of birdie or go home.

Kirk, the 2007 Ben Hogan Award winner, had a 15-foot putt lose steam downhill and fall just right of the hole, thereby ending his quest for the title. Nearly 20 minutes after missing a 3-footer for the win, Turner calmly rolled in a 9-foot birdie putt to keep the playoff with Gillis alive.

The two players would halve the par-4 18th with pars and head back to the first to continue the extra session. A pulled tee shot forced Turner to try and hook a wedge, which bounced long and left a difficult up-and-down. For Gillis, a well-placed tee shot gave the 40-year-old an open look at the pin, and he took advantage with a wedge to 15-feet below the hole.

“I knew I had to get my tee shot (on the first) down the right side to set up the shot,” said Gillis.

Turner’s putt from over the green wound up 10 feet short of the hole and opened the door for Gillis, who in turn slammed it shut with a birdie to claim the title.

“I’ve been in a decent number of playoffs over the years and it’s hard to win. I was probably on the other side of it for quite a few years, but of late, I’ve seemed to come out (on top). Experience does help you,” said Gillis, who earned a spot in the 2008 British Open via a five-man playoff.

After 19 years of chasing a little white ball all over the world and going toe-to-toe with the game’s best, Tom Gillis realizes that a win on any level is hard to achieve and a joy to appreciate.

“Any time you win in a playoff and play well down the stretch, it’s not a whole lot different from the PGA Tour – I can tell you that right now. You’re still feeling the same things, because I’ve been there, and it’s the same feeling.”

Turner, Kirk and Henderson each earned $14,666 for their share of second place. First-round co-leader Ryan Carter wound up in solo fifth and earned $8,500 on the week.

The common thought amongst the players all week was that playing two Donald Ross gems in Mid Pines and Pine Needles was a treat at this level of golf. Gillis, who grew up on the classic courses of Michigan, certainly concurred.

“You get to a tee shot and you see the definition. You really have to be smart on where you approach the green from. It’s the way golf should be played.”

And with that bit of nostalgia and simplicity, Gillis went to his car to hit the road again and chase the dream worth chasing. 

Pine Needles Classic
Mid Pines Resort
Par 70; 6,528 yards
Pine Needles Resort
Par 71; 7,015 yards 

Final-Round Results

1. x-Tom  Gillis, Oxford, MI, $30,000.00, *69-67-68-204 -7

2. Michael Henderson, Orlando, FL, $14,666.67, *69-68-67-204 -7

2. Chris Kirk, Woodstock, GA, $14,666.67, *68-65-71-204 -7

2. Emmett Turner, Augusta, GA, $14,666.67, *65-66-73-204 -7        

5. Ryan Carter, Hacienda Heights, CA, $8,500.00, *65-71-69-205 -6

6. Ted Potter, Silver Springs, FL, $5,800.00, *70-69-67-206 -5

6. Nicholas MacDonald, Blacksburg, VA, $5,800.00, *69-69-68-206 -5

6. Alex  Hamilton, Aiken, SC, $5,800.00, *67-69-70-206 -5

6. Will  Mc Girt, Boiling Springs, SC, $5,800.00, *66-68-72-206 -5

10. Adam Fox, Charlotte, NC, $3,700.00, *71-66-70-207 -4

10. Kelly Sellers, Bartow, FL, $3,700.00, *69-68-70-207 -4

10. Doug Garwood, Los Angeles, CA, $3,700.00, *65-71-71-207 -4

13. Andy  Bare, West End, NC, $2,904.17, *72-67-69-208 -3

13. Rob Corcoran, Melbourne, FL, $2,904.17, *66-73-69-208 -3        

13. Jeffrey Goff, Jackson, SC, $2,904.17, *69-71-68-208 -3

13. Stephen  Poole, Aiken, SC, $2,904.17, *69-72-67-208 -3

13. Brent Delahoussaye, Greenville, SC, $2,904.17, *70-67-71-208 -3

13. Brett Stegmaier, Vero Beach, FL, $2,904.17, *65-70-73-208 -3

19. Jonas Enander Hedin, Stockholm, Sweden, $2,350.00, *70-70-69-209 -2

19. Christian Ries, Atlanta, GA, $2,350.00, *69-72-68-209 -2

19. Jhared Hack, Sanford, FL, $2,350.00, *73-68-68-209 -2

19. David Bradshaw, Harpers Ferry, WV, $2,350.00, *67-70-72-209 -2

19. Matt Crenshaw, Elon, NC, $2,350.00, *67-70-72-209 -2

19. Christo Greyling, Orlando, FL, $2,350.00, *68-70-71-209 -2

19. Sang Ji, Covina, CA, $2,350.00, *69-68-72-209 -2

26. Brian Duncan, Mount Pleasant, SC, $2,006.25, *70-70-70-210 -1

26. David  Robinson, Sandersville, GA, $2,006.25, *69-71-70-210 -1

26. Jesse Smith, Orlando, FL, $2,006.25, *68-71-71-210 -1

26. Gregg Jones, Florence, SC, $2,006.25, *72-67-71-210 -1

26. Chris  McCartin, Arlington, VA, $2,006.25, *72-69-69-210 -1

26. Fernando Mechereffe, Charlotte, NC, $2,006.25, *68-70-72-210 -1

26. Matthew Thomas, Blasdell, NY, $2,006.25, *72-69-69-210 -1

26. Kyle Dobbs, Tequesta, FL, $2,006.25, *70-71-69-210 -1

34. Ted  Brown, Richmond, VA, $1,750.00, *67-72-72-211 E

34. Bruce McDonald, Mt Pleasant, SC, $1,750.00, *67-72-72-211 E

34. Brad Smith, Australia, $1,750.00, *69-69-73-211 E

34. Scott Stallings, Oak Bridge, TN, $1,750.00, *67-71-73-211 E

34. Matt Davidson, Chapel Hill, NC, $1,750.00, *68-70-73-211 E

39. Scott Brown, North Augusta, SC, $1,408.33, *71-69-72-212 +1

39. Richard Scott, St. Simons Island, GA, $1,408.33, *70-69-73-212 +1

39. Will Claxton, Auburn, AL, $1,408.33, *70-71-71-212 +1

39. Tommy Gibson, Pilot Mountain, NC, $1,408.33, *70-71-71-212 +1

39. Ed McGlasson, Orange, CA, $1,408.33, *69-70-73-212 +1

39. Chad Wilfong, Thomasville, NC, $1,408.33, *71-70-71-212 +1

39. Scott Ford, Palm Beach Gardens, FL, $1,408.33, *70-71-71-212 +1

39. Blaine Peffley, $1,408.33, *69-69-74-212 +1

39. Chris Rogers, Nashville, TN, $1,408.33, *69-72-71-212 +1

48. Nathan Stamey, Greensboro, NC, $1,176.25, *67-72-74-213 +2

48. Mark Harrell, Hazelhurst, GA, $1,176.25, *71-69-73-213 +2

48. Jeffrey Castle, Nottingham, MD, $1,176.25, *71-70-72-213 +2

48. Martin Ureta, Chile, $1,176.25, *70-69-74-213 +2

48. Steve Ford, Melbourne FL, $1,176.25, *73-69-71-213 +2

48. Ryan Blaum, Coral Gables, FL, $1,176.25, *73-69-71-213 +2

48. Paul Cormack, Orlando, FL, $1,176.25, *75-67-71-213 +2

48. Tim Schaetzel, Atlanta, GA, $1,176.25, *72-70-71-213 +2

56. Kevin Haefner, Auburn, AL, $1,105.00, *70-70-74-214 +3

56. Drew Bowen, Monroe, GA, $1,105.00, *70-71-73-214 +3

56. John Eades, Charlotte, NC, $1,105.00, *69-72-73-214 +3

56. Jordan Holley, Boca Raton, FL, $1,105.00, *66-70-78-214 +3

56. Scott Usher, Johns Island, SC, $1,105.00, *72-70-72-214 +3

56. Jamie Miller, Silver Creek, NY, $1,105.00, *74-68-72-214 +3

62. Lee Stroever, Jupiter, FL, $1,060.00, *71-69-75-215 +4

62. Jay  McLuen, Athens, GA, $1,060.00, *71-69-75-215 +4

62. Patrick Lundy, Little River, SC, $1,060.00, *70-72-73-215 +4

65. Berry Henson, La Quinta, CA, $1,035.00, *72-67-77-216 +5

65. Ben Goforth, Shelby, NC, $1,035.00, *70-71-75-216 +5

67. Cody Hale, Tullahoma, TN, $1,008.75, *73-67-77-217 +6

67. Jerry  Richardson, Raleigh, NC, $1,008.75, *69-72-76-217 +6

67. Scott Weatherly, Fort Payne, AL, $1,008.75, *70-71-76-217 +6

67. Tyler Brown, Ponte Vedra Beach, FL, $1,008.75, *70-72-75-217 +6

71. Garry  Hill, South Africa, $962.50, *72-68-78-218 +7

71. Scott Ehrlich, Orlando, FL, $962.50, *69-73-76-218 +7

73. Sean McDonagh, Del Mar, CA, $935.00, *73-67-79-219 +8

73. Matt Vick, Franklin, TN, $935.00, *71-71-77-219 +8

75. Jay Haas, Greenville, SC, $915.00, *70-71-79-220 +9

75. Bret Parker, Huntington Beach, CA, $915.00, *72-69-79-220 +9

77. Anthony Mannarino, Boca Raton, FL, $900.00, *71-70-80-221 +10


x – won on third hole of sudden death