May 17 2013
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
IRVING, Texas -- Tom Gillis had some disagreements with his swing coach Jeff Leishman earlier this year and decided to step away to work on his own for a couple of months.
Did the move pay off?
Uh, not really.
"Kind of got lost," Gillis said. "Fortunately he was nice enough to take me back."
Being reunited with Leishman seems to be paying dividends for the 44-year-old Gillis. He tied his career low round on the PGA TOUR with a 7-under 63 in Friday's second round of the HP Byron Nelson Championship.
That left him at 8 under for the tournament and in great shape to chase after his first TOUR win this weekend.
Gillis entered this week having missed five consecutive cuts and eight total out of 11 starts this year. Being back with Leishman -- who is based in Jupiter, Fla., and has worked with Gillis for five years -- provided a calming influence.
"I felt like I was back to the old stuff, normal, the way it was," said Gillis, who's best finish this year was a tie for 25th at The Honda Classic. "I think that relaxed me, and when you're relaxed, you play good."
Gillis opened with a 1-under 69 on Thursday as part of the afternoon wave that faced tougher scoring conditions. Gillis was glad to see preferred lies and benign conditions in effect for the second round, and he took advantage by hitting 12 fairways and 13 greens while needing just 24 putts.
There was only one stumble on Gillis' round. Through 17 holes -- he started his round off the 10th tee -- he was a bogey-free 8 under for the day, one of his birdies coming from a putt of nearly 42 feet at the second hole.
But after a nice approach shot at the par-4 ninth left him 9 feet from another birdie and a round of 61, Gillis three-putted from that distance to drop a stroke.
"I just gave it a little too much speed," he said. "I think I probably lost concentration on the comebacker, so I guess that happens."
Back with his coach, though, Gillis doesn't anticipate many lapses of concentration going forward. He also doesn't expect any more disagreements with Leishman.
"I think he was right all along, to be honest with you," Gillis said.