PGA TOUR CHAMPIONS INSIDER
Gilbert excited to compete after his amazing putt
December 05, 2018
By Bob McClellan, PGATOUR.COM
- December 05, 2018
Gilbert III sinks 70-footer for birdie at Q-School Finals
Gibby Gilbert III had been knocking on the door at PGA TOUR Champions Q School for the past three years.
He had made the final stage every time, and he had finished no worse than seventh. Two years ago he was in a three-man playoff for two exempt spots. He lost.
But Gilbert finally blew the door off its hinges on the 72nd hole at TPC Tampa Bay this year, rolling in a 70-footer for birdie that not only secured one of five fully exempt spots for the 2019 season but won him medalist honors.
The putt has gone viral, racking up nearly 400,000 views on the official Twitter account of PGA TOUR Champions.
“That’s just crazy,” Gilbert said this week. “A putt like that is just luck. I’m just doing whatever I can to two-putt it. I wanted to give myself a decent second putt, just try to get up there somewhere close.
“As it went over the hill I looked up and I knew it had good pace and it started getting close. About 3 or 4 feet short it was dead center. … Obviously in competition, for what that putt meant … I’ve never done that. If I three-putt that -- which you will a lot more than you will one-putt it -- if I do that I’m in another playoff. I go from 4 under to 2 under.”
Gilbert had run into trouble off the tee on the 18th at TPC Tampa Bay, a hole he had double-bogeyed the day before to drop into a tie for 14th. He drove his ball into a fairway bunker and had a 200-yard shot over water just to reach the green.
“I really hit a great shot just to get it to 70 feet,” Gilbert said. “It’s a hard hole. The course played extremely hard all week.”
Gilbert had won his qualifying stage at 19 under. It took just 4 under to win the final stage.
For as many plaudits as the putt has earned, Gilbert has gotten grief over his appearance. He was wearing a new shirt, and it kept coming untucked over the first six holes to the point of distraction. After he bogeyed No. 6, Gilbert decided to untuck the shirt for good. He then birdied Nos. 7 and 8 and, well, what golfer would tuck it back in after that?
“I got this and that on Twitter, but it doesn’t matter to me now,” Gilbert said.
Gilbert is a resident of Chattanooga, Tennessee, and is the son of Gibby Gilbert, a three-time winner on the PGA TOUR and six-time winner on PGA TOUR Champions. The elder Gilbert is 77, and his son said he’s doing great and still playing three or four times a week in the Chattanooga area.
The son said his father had no particular advice for him other than just to keep doing what he had been doing. Gilbert III Monday-qualified six times on PGA TOUR Champions in 2018, and that had given him enough confidence to give Q school another go.
“To Monday qualify six times … that was pretty decent,” Gilbert III said. “I played fairly well. I got myself in the top 10 a few times but didn’t finish in the top 10. But I got a little confidence there and just tried to play like I’d been playing all year.”
In his six events in 2018, Gilbert never finished worse than T35. His best finish was a T24 at the Ally Challenge.
Gilbert said the strength of his game is that he doesn’t have any glaring weakness. He said he’s not a big hitter by any stretch. But he got enough experience last year to know what he’s up against.
“These guys can play, they can freaking play,” said Gilbert, who mentioned that he played in a couple of events with Ken Tanigawa, last year’s Q school medalist and a winner in 2018. “It’s just unbelievable. You shoot even par and you’re out of it. You have to shoot 5 or 6 under every time you go out.
“I do really believe that I can compete out there. I can finish in the top 36 to keep my exempt card. I believe I can do that.”
Gilbert sounds like a guy who knows he can breathe a little easier now that he can plan for a full schedule. Now he just has to decide how he’s going to wear his shirts.