(October 3, 2012 - Oakville, ON) - There's not much about Michael Gligic that suggests he just turned 23 years old. While it's not unusual for players his age to find success, Gligic stands out from his peers as more of an experienced veteran than a young player trying to find his place.
Maybe it's because he's been playing professional golf since high school, opting not to take the usual collegiate golf route. Maybe it's simply the fact he stands out from the crowd thanks to prodigious talent. But for whatever reason, it's becoming clear Gligic is one of Canada's most promising young players.
2012 was a breakout season for the Burlington native, who captured his first win at the ATB Financial Classic and finished second on the Order of Merit, earning an exemption into the second stage of PGA TOUR Q-School.
"I feel very comfortable playing out on tour," says Gligic. "I had a lot more confidence in my game this year."
After a successful junior career, Gligic turned pro at 18 years old, immediately turning heads by tying for ninth at the 2008 Jane Rogers Championship, then earning full status at Canadian Tour Q-School later that year. But like many pros, the first few years of playing for a paycheque were more of a learning experience than anything else.
"Learning how to live life on the road as a pro golfer isn't easy," says Gligic. "It's more than just golf - living out of hotels, planning rental cars and things like that take a toll on you."
But since then, Gligic has been gathering experience and steadily building an impressive resume. He capped off 2008 by winning the Great Lakes Tour's Tour Championship, the Moe Norman Cup, and has won a total of eight times on that tour, including another Moe Norman Cup last fall. Gligic says steady improvement on the greens - thanks in part to putting coach Gareth Raflewski - has helped him find the next level as a player.
"My putting got a lot better this year. In the past, it's held me back and those 65s and 66s would turn into 69s and 70s," says Gligic. "Now, my poor rounds are still under par. I'm keeping myself in tournaments."
This past June, Gligic began what would be a breakthrough season with his first Canadian Tour win at the ATB Financial Classic presented by TELUS.
Playing two groups ahead of leader Matt Marshall, Gligic made three birdies in a four-hole stretch on the back nine to post 14-under par in the clubhouse. Then, Marshall made four consecutive bogeys, nearly handing the tournament to Gligic before rallying with a 72nd hole birdie to force a playoff. But after two more trips down the tough 18th at Windermere Golf & Country Club, Gligic secured the victory with a two-putt par.
"I made a nice run towards the end and it payed off. It felt great just to stay focused and come out with the win," says Gligic.
While the win in Edmonton was certainly monumental, the 23-year old says the experience he gained while in contention at other tournaments meant just as much. Gligic had other chances to win in Windsor and Gananoque this year, sitting at or near the lead on the weekend before being passed by others in the final round.
"I learned a lot about trying to win tournaments. In Windsor, I was just trying to hold on," says Gligic, who was tied for the 54-hole lead with Will Strickler at the Jamieson WFCU Windsor Roseland Charity Classic before a final-round 71 left him looking up at winner Alan McLean. "I learned a lot about myself and what happens when you get under pressure."
With his most successful season under his belt, the focus for Gligic now shifts to reaching the next level. He'll tee it up at Redstone Golf Club in Houston for the second stage of PGA TOUR Q-School November 13-16, and has his eyes not only on the PGA TOUR for 2013, but a particular event - the RBC Canadian Open at Glen Abbey Golf Club.
"When I was a kid, playing the Canadian Open at Glen Abbey was always my dream," says Gligic, who spent countless hours as a teen at Glen Abbey practicing and working with instructor Sean Foley. "It felt like my home course back then, and I'd love to have a shot at it."
Fulfilling a childhood dream and playing the Open again in 2013 would certainly be sweet for Gligic, but he wouldn’t be a kid living out a fantasy. Given the progress he’s made over the past few years, he’d be right where he belongs.