Ancer leads the charge among pros with Oklahoma ties, Gibson earns card

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With his strong second-place showing in the Northern Trust, the first round of the FedEx Cup playoffs, University of Oklahoma graduate Abraham Ancer moved up from 67th to seventh in the standings and is in good position to make it to the finals.

The field will be pared from 70 to 30 after the second playoff event this week, the BMW Championship in Chicago. Other players with state ties still alive are Rickie Fowler (17), Charles Howell III (23) and Kevin Tway (40).

Not advancing from the first round were Matthew Wolff, who dropped from 70 to 74, and Talor Gooch, who finished at 101.

The Korn Ferry Tour Finals get underway this week with the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship at the Scarlet Course at Ohio State University. The top 75 finishers on the Korn Ferry Tour will be competing with those who finished 126-200 on the PGA Tour money list for 25 exempt spots on the PGA Tour. However the top 25 finishers on the Korn Ferry Tour already have earned PGA Tour cards and will just be playing to improve their positioning.

Oklahoma players in the top 25 who will have PGA Tour cards for 2019-20 include former Oklahoma State star Kristoffer Ventura, who finished fourth on the points list, Rhein Gibson of Edmond (10) and former OU golfer Michael Gellerman (19).

Finishing from 26 to 75 and competing for a card in the three-event Finals are Josh Creel of Edmond (29, former Oklahoma State golfer Kevin Dougherty (33), Charlie Saxon of Tulsa and OU (40) and former OU golfer Grant Hirshman (68).

PGA Tour players coming from the 126-200 category include Edmond North grad Robert Streb (128), former OSU player Alex Noren (129), OSU-ex Peter Uihlein (133), Anders Albertson, whose father Scott Albertson is a Tulsa businessman (172) and OSU’s Hunter Mahan (184). Some may have various exemptions and not compete in the Korn Ferry Tour Finals.

Although still not listed as a current PGA Tour member, former Cowboy Viktor Hovland earned sufficient points in his PGA Tour starts this year to earn a spot in the Korn Ferry Tour Finals.

Gibson knew a couple of months ago that he’d be back on the PGA Tour for the 2019-20 season, but the former Oklahoma Christian standout wanted a strong finish to the Korn Ferry Tour regular season to help secure himself as good a starting spot as possible when he returns to the big tour.

He did just that in the WinCo Foods Portland Open, which ended Sunday at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club. Gibson, a member of the OC Athletic Hall of Fame, tied for 11th and – more importantly – moved up two spots to No. 10 on the Korn Ferry Tour’s regular-season points list.

The top 25 on that list as of Sunday earned a PGA Tour card for next season – they were presented with the cards during a ceremony following the tournament. Gibson had secured his spot with a win in June in the BMW Charity Pro-Am in Greenville, S.C., but he knew it was important to finish as high as possible on the Korn Ferry Tour points list, as order of finish helps determine priority for playing status on the PGA Tour.

He still has some work to do – he needs to compete in the three events that are part of the Korn Ferry Tour playoffs. The 25 players who already have earned their cards will be in a playoff among themselves, as the priority order in which they will be able to enter the first eight events of the upcoming PGA Tour season will be determined using the final points standings after the Korn Ferry Tour Championship, that tour’s final event.

Gibson enters the postseason with 1,111.29 points. During the Korn Ferry Tour postseason, players can earn double the points available in regular-season tournaments, with each winner earning 1,000 points. The current points leader has 1,962.457 points.

“It’s my second year back, so really nice to know I already have it locked up,” Gibson said. “The last time I did it, I did it in a playoff. So, the last couple of months have been quite relaxing knowing I’m going back. I just hope to be better prepared this time and not get thrown at it right away, like I was the first time. I think I’m better prepared for it and am playing well. So, I’m looking forward to the fall events.”

Gibson, a 33-year-old native of Lismore, Australia, who now lives in Edmond, Okla., previously played on the PGA Tour in 2016, after finishing fourth in the 2015 Web.com (now Korn Ferry) Tour Championship. He made nine cuts on the PGA Tour in 2016 before returning to what’s now the Korn Ferry Tour for the past three years.

“I had it once and I lost it,” Gibson said. “So, I always questioned myself as to whether I was good enough to get back out there. I feel like I have been putting the time in and working on the right stuff. I’m super pumped to get back because, like I said, you just don’t know if you can ever get it back. These kids are getting better and better every year and the competition is getting stronger every year. I’m excited to get back and hope I can stay out there.


 

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Ken MacLeod

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