February 10 2011
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- That sloppy three-putt of a double bogey on the 11th hole wasn't exactly the kind of start that Tom Gillis was hoping for at Pebble Beach on Thursday.
Not to worry, though. Gillis got back on track with three straight birdies starting at the 13th hole, then added another trio on his second nine en route to a solid 67.
"Other than the double bogey it was pretty flawless," Gillis said. "Probably could have been something a little bit better."
Still, the round was good enough to leave Gillis two strokes off the pace set by Steve Marino and D.A. Points -- and making a trip to the interview room for the second straight Thursday. The well-traveled veteran also shot 65 in the first round of last week's Waste Management Phoenix Open but ended up in a tie for 68th.
Gillis appeared more confident after Thursday's opener, though. That's because he's made an adjustment in his putting stroke that paid dividends with just 26 in the first round.
"It just wasn't allowing me to start the ball on the intended line," Gillis said, adding that his ball-striking carried him through a week ago. "No matter how good I was hitting it in the last week, I couldn't make putts. That just turned into frustration. ..."
Aside from the opening double bogey, there was little frustration on Thursday. Gillis made birdie putts from 13, 9, 15, 19, 4 and 3 feet.
"I like the West Coast," Gillis said. "Some players don't. I've always liked to come out here and play. It's one of my favorite parts of the year. ...
"I would say I obviously thought maybe we would have a little bit better chance to win by now, four, five weeks in. Last week we had a good first round and lost momentum after the break that we had.
"And here we are again. Put ourselves in good position at the beginning of the tournament and never know. Keep knocking on the door and maybe something will happen." – Helen Ross