BENOWA, Australia (Dec. 4, 2015) – Two holes into his second round of the Australian PGA Championship on Friday at RACV Royal Pines Resort, Rhein Gibson was about ready to pack it in.
After shooting a 7-over-par 79 in the opening round, Gibson started his second round with two bogeys and was making plans in his head to visit his hometown of Linsmore on Australia’s Gold Coast on Saturday. But then, as the Oklahoma Christian Athletic Hall of Famer oft is wont to do, he suddenly went on a hot streak.
There were a couple of birdies on No. 3 and No. 4, then an eagle at No. 9, followed by a back nine that went like this: par, birdie, eagle, par, birdie, birdie, birdie, par, birdie. It all added up to a course-record 64, putting Gibson into contention midway through one of his native country’s biggest golf events.
Gibson – who now resides in Edmond, Okla., and is a new PGA Tour member – will go into the third round Saturday tied for eighth at 1-under, just two shots behind the leader, David Lingmerth of Sweden.
"Yeah, I started bogey-bogey to go to 9-over for the tournament and yeah, really didn’t want to be here," Gibson told reporters after his round. "Hit it over the back on, what’s that, the third for two and got up and down for birdie, then birdied four, three-putted five for bogey and then chipped in for eagle on nine, which was the turning point. That kind of gave me a sniff of making the cut, because that was really my main goal today, after playing so poorly yesterday.
"Kind of caught fire there the last six, seven holes."
Indeed. Gibson posted a sizzling 29 – 7-under-par – on the back nine.
"I’m not necessarily thinking about the score," Gibson said. "I take each hole as it is and try to hit the right shot that it’s calling for, whether it’s 20 feet to the right, putt across the green or intentionally miss the green short and get an up-and-down for birdie on a par-5. I just try to play what the hole gives me and play percentages."
Gibson said that all things considered, his 64 on Friday could well have been more impressive than the round that made him famous, a world-record 55 in May 2012 at River Oaks Golf Club in Oklahoma City.
"Under tournament conditions, this course is tough," Gibson said. "The greens are firm. They’re like cricket pitches and they’re not very true, either, because they’re so new. To be able to do that on a Friday to make the cut and get back in contention, it’s probably better than a 55."
Gibson is playing in the Australian PGA a week after he finished eighth in the Australian Open and just missed qualifying for the British Open for a second time after shooting a final-round 75. He said that is motivating him this week.
While at OC, Gibson won four individual tournament titles while helping the Eagles to a pair of runner-up finishes and a pair of third-place team showings at the NAIA Championship. Shortly after his graduation, he won the Oklahoma state amateur title and was named as the Oklahoma state amateur player of the year in 2008.
He qualified for the 2014 British Open at Royal Liverpool, where he made the cut and played in a memorable third-round grouping with Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth.