Web.com Tour golfer Tom Gillis said he has never been one to mince words since he opened a Twitter account almost three years ago.
That approach during this week’s Air Capital Classic at Crestview Country Club may yield some unwanted consequences for the 45-year-old tour journeyman.
Gillis, who has also played on the PGA and European tours, rankled tournament director Roy Turner and Crestview members in his first Wichita appearance with comments he made on social media Thursday. After firing a second-round 65 Friday to move near the top of the leaderboard at 9 under, Gillis spoke with tour officials and Crestview general manager Ken Nicholas, who waited for him near the scoring area.
On Thursday, Gillis tweeted, “Never been to a course with a higher opinion of themselves. crestview c.c.” and “When u play the web.com tour u get to warm up with the lady members.” along with a picture of an unidentified female preparing to hit a shot in the course’s practice area. Gillis said he took the picture as Web.com golfers prepared for the first round.
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“I probably made the mistake of lumping everybody at the club into having a high opinion of themselves, when really there was one particular lady that was going to come out and chip balls because she didn’t care,” Gillis said Friday after signing his scorecard. “She was mad that the tour was here because I heard her say it. She was 10 feet from me.”
Turner, who is also a Crestview member, learned of Gillis’ tweets from another member Thursday.
“I have no idea what prompted it,” Turner said while Gillis played his second round. “I go beyond to make these players feel good in this town, and I think most of the members do, too.
“When you’re doing that and one individual chooses to say that, it sure as hell isn’t any representation of the players who come to Wichita.”
Turner shared Gillis’ tweets with Web.com Tour staff Thursday. Tour official Tom Hearn said Friday morning that Gillis’ status in this week’s tournament would not be affected.
“We’re definitely following up on it,” Hearn said. “I can’t really say what we’re doing about it, but believe me, we are following up on it.
“It’s the tour’s policy that we don’t discuss disciplinary matters publicly. I would like to say that hopefully the Crestview membership knows from the bottom of our hearts that is absolutely not the representation of the rest of the players and staff. When we come here, we are treated tremendously, and it’s a very unfortunate comment.”
Gillis said a few spectators voiced their displeasure Thursday, and he “had a lot of messages that were pretty aggressive” in response to his tweets. He added he expects a chilly greeting during the weekend rounds at the par-3 17th, where large crowds are expected to fill double-decker grandstands.
“I’m opinionated,” Gillis said. “I state my case on a lot of stuff. I’ve done that from the first time I started tweeting.
“It is what it is. I understand some people are going to be upset. If you’re going to tweet that, you have to understand that. You’ve got to be willing to take the heat.”
Gillis also tweeted a comment about fellow Web.com golfer Si Woo Kim’s father during Wednesday’s pro-am event. “Just saw Si Whoo (sic) Kim’s dad get caught stealing pro am participants gifts on the first tee here in Wichita. To (sic) funny. If it’s free it’s me!!!”
“I don’t want to get into all that,” Gillis said. “I pretty much did on the tweet. It was fact. I witnessed it. So did two other players and a caddie.”
Turner said, “There were absolutely no issues during the pro-am that were brought to my attention.”
Friday morning, Turner said he didn’t want to discuss the tweets with Gillis.
“I think it’s very poor on the player’s behalf, and I’m not very pleased,” Turner said. “It hurts. It really does.”