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March 4 2012

12:30 AM

Gillis comfortable entering final round

By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- Tom Gillis has played all over the world -- 26 countries to be exact -- in a career that dates back to 1990. Sunday, he’ll be trying for his first career victory on the PGA TOUR as he enters the final round of The Honda Classic two shots back of leader Rory McIlroy after a third-round 69.

For a guy who has never even played in the final group on Sunday much less won, Gillis, who lives in nearby Jupiter, seems awfully relaxed. And you don’t travel the world as much as Gillis has without coming away with a few stories.

One in particular Gillis recalled involved a pair of tennis shoes that went missing during the 1993 Jamaican Open.

“There was no locker room so you put your shoes in your bag,” said Gillis, who used a local caddie that week. “I got down to the lobby of the hotel and my shoes were gone. I'm thinking, geez, the guy stole my tennis shoes. I mean, who else had the bag?

“I was all mad, I'm like, that's it, I'm firing this guy, he's done.”

But as Gillis’ friend and college roommate pointed out, that caddie helped Gillis make a few 30 and 40-foot putts that day, so he kept the caddie and went on to win the tournament.

Saturday, that same caddie, who has since become friends with Gillis, was in the crowd at The Honda Classic.

”He was from Kingston and it was a very tough area and it was more of a survival thing,” Gillis said. “I look back, and the guy had to do it. He needed them worse than I needed them.”

Thanks to a few lengthy putts this week -- Gillis has made four from over 25 feet -- and mostly mistake-free golf with just two bogeys, Gillis finally has a chance for another win on a much bigger stage.

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