What they said: Tom Gillis

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March 03, 2012
PGA TOUR staff

MORE INTERVIEWS: The Honda Classic transcript archive JOHN BUSH: We would like to welcome Tom Gillis into the interview room, 1-under par 69 today, and in threesomes tomorrow, you'll be in the final group, just get your comments.

TOM GILLIS: Well, I think it's going to be fun. Two 22-year-olds and a 43-year-old; hopefully they don't walk too fast and I can catch up to them.

No, I think it will be good. I think it was probably smart that we are going to do the reverse horseshoe and that, because from what I hear there's going to be some weather coming in.

No, I feel good about my game. It was a little patchy in spots today, which I figured it would be, 20� mile-an-hour winds, because I've played that golf course a few times with that wind. It was pretty much what I expected.

I wish I could have got a couple out at the end to get a little closer to Rory. He's not the type of guy you want to spot two shots to. But anything can happen on this golf course, anything. So we'll just add them up tomorrow.

Q. Anything that happened to you coming into this tournament that suggested to you that you would be playing this well??

TOM GILLIS: Well, you know, I just tried this week to maybe just down play a little bit and not make it -- you know, I live three or four miles away, and I think I just put a little too much pressure on myself kind of like how I used to do up at the Buick Open up there in Flint. Just downplay it and try to make it like Tuesday and see how good we can do at that this week, and that's probably -- there's no question that's helped me out I would say. That's probably been the big trigger more than the swing or anything like that.

Q. Along the same lines, did the third at Pebble last year make a difference in that regard??

TOM GILLIS: You know, that's a good question. I don't remember having a lot -- I don't remember having to work as hard mentally last year as I've had to after the West Coast Swing, which wasn't very good for me.

There was a little bit more work to do between the ears, I would say. At Pebble, I was just playing good when I was out there, so it came a little easier.

Q. I think you played in 26 countries; is that right??

TOM GILLIS: Yeah.

Q. What's your favorite story from being such a world traveler??

TOM GILLIS: Well, I was telling my caddie today about a story, there was a guy in the crowd that caddied for me at the Jamaican Open in 1993. It was kind of a funny story. I had some tennis shoes that I -- it was a resort we stayed at and we walked up to the course and you carried your clubs. There was no longer room. So you put your shoes in your bag and that.

But I had this guy who -- the greens were awful. I remember playing a practice round with my college roommate and I made about three or four 30-and 40-footers like I did today on these awful greens.

When I got done, he gave me my bag and said, I'll see you Thursday or whatever or the next day. So I got back, I got down to the lobby of the hotel and my shoes were gone; my tennis shoes were gone. So I'm thinking, geez, the guy stole my tennis shoes; I mean, who else had the bag. The guy was in the crowd today, Jamaican guy. So I was all mad, I'm like, that's it, I'm firing this guy, he's done.

My buddy, my roommate, Trevor, he's like: "You've got to be kidding me. You've got to be the stupidest guy I know if you're going to fire this guy."

I said, "why?"

He said, "You made three or four 40-footers in the practice round on the worst greens you've ever putted on; the guy can read them great." You just walk out and point to the spot and you just roll the ball over and it would go in. Well, I win the tournament; I won by about five shots, beat Jim Thorpe and some other guys.

So I'm kind of glad I didn't fire him. But he lives in the U.S. now, and he actually caddies at one of the local clubs and he's caddied for me a couple of times, we are pretty good friends.

But it was just -- he was from Kingston and it was a very tough area and it was more of a survival thing. I think at the time, I really didn't understand it. I was probably, I don't know, 24, 25. I was a little bitter about it for a while but now I look back, and the guy had to do it. He needed them worse than I needed them. That's probably one of many to be honest with you. We'd be here a long time. But that just came up today so that's why it's fresh in my head.

Q. Does the guy still owe you a pair of shoes??

TOM GILLIS: Oh, yeah, he keeps saying he didn't do it but, you know (smiling), it's funny, because I played the other day at the golf course -- the caddie master is a friend of mine and I told him about the story. Just before we went out, he looked at -- this guy's nickname is Toe. And he look at Toe and he said, "What do you think of those shoes, Toe." So Toe, he's blushing and looking down and all, that just chuckling. It's funny. It's wild.

Q. The real question is: How easy or not so easy is it going to be tomorrow to make it like Tuesday??

TOM GILLIS: Well, I think that's a choice you make. You know, it's hard to do that, I'm sure if it was easy everybody would be doing it.

But I could do it. I thought -- I was a little more concerned about today probably than anything, just because I knew it was going to be tough in that 20- to 25-mile-an-hour wind. I just knew it was going to be tough.

I don't know what it's going to be tomorrow but you know, sitting around all morning, not going off till 1:40, there's a lot of downtime to sit around and think. So I knew it would be a challenge today. So I feel like I held up fairly well.

Q. As of Tuesday, according to the quote sheets from yesterday, you're still going back and forth between shafts, graphite and steel; did you find something??

TOM GILLIS: Those shafts I'm using have been the shafts I've used since I think 2003, so I only use -- I went four weeks with the steel and gave them a fair shot. Thought I would be better with them, and I just couldn't. I just couldn't do it.

So as soon as I got those old shafts in my hands, and then this wind started to blow, I could hit all the shots again. I could shape the ball and do everything I wanted to do.

I'm a very complicated player to hit. I hit a lot of shots; I I'm more old school and I work the ball a lot. As soon as I got it in my hand, it was just like, wow, an old baseball glove. I'm like, wow, this is it, they are going to be fine all week. Yeah, it's pleasing.

Q. Would you talk about 10??

TOM GILLIS: The 10th hole? Drove it in the fairway, hit a good drive. Hit a 5-iron in there. Didn't hit a great 5-iron but got enough of it. I think it landed right around the front and rolled up there about four feet short and rolled it in.

Q. The putts on 8,9 and 11, things like that go in -- how much does that relax you??

TOM GILLIS: It was more funny to me just because I'm like, is that skill or is that just luck? It just was humorous actually, because like I said, I don't know if I made two 30- or 40- footers all last year in 20 tournaments or whatever.

But I see these greens real well. I know I can -- for some reason, I can feel the wind and I can feel the grain and the slope, and I've been seeing them well all week. I think I'm just seeing them better than I did on the West Coast.

Q. You've been around obviously a long time and played a lot of golf; is there an intimidation factor in you're playing alongside somebody who is just striping it all day? Is it hard to sort of focus on your own game, if that's the case?

TOM GILLIS: Well, I think if you're striping it all day, it's not very intimidating. But if the other guy is and you're all over the lot, I think -- I don't know if intimidation is the word. Maybe a little demoralizing if you're trying to catch somebody.

But you know, I mean, I don't know how much intimidation golf has. We are not really fighting out there. I always get a kick out of that, everybody always talks about how intimidating Tiger is. And I'm thinking, he's a great player, but it's not like we have to stand there toe- to-toe. I would say the whole environment might be intimidating or the whole arena.

But I mean, I've been on the receiving end of that. I've played good in the last round of events, and never missed a shot, and I've sat on the other side and watched somebody never miss a shot, and it's a little bit frustrating, because you're like, hey, how am I going to beat the guy, he hasn't missed and he's in your group. Hopefully I don't feel that tomorrow.

JOHN BUSH: Tom, we appreciate your time, play well tomorrow.

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