HOYLAKE, England (July 19, 2014) – By all accounts, the moment didn’t get to Rhein Gibson on Saturday, even if his score was no doubt a few shots higher than he would have preferred.
Playing in a group with 14-time major champion Tiger Woods and rising star Jordan Spieth in the third round of the British Open, Gibson shot a 2-over-par 74 at Royal Liverpool Golf Club, leaving the Oklahoma Christian alum at 4-over for the tournament.
Gibson played before the largest crowds of his career, with fans crowding eight-to-10 deep along the course, most no doubt hoping to catch a glimpse of Woods – who, like Gibson, birdied No. 18 on Friday to make the tournament’s cut on the number.
ESPN dedicated an announcing crew to Woods’ group and broadcast nearly every shot taken by Gibson, Woods and Spieth, giving the cable network’s announcers plenty of time to discuss Woods’ playing partners. Gibson’s world-record round of 55 – shot at River Oaks Golf Club in Oklahoma City in May 2012 – was a frequent topic of conversation. Famed golfers-turned-commentators such as David Duval and Tom Weiskopf noted Gibson’s composure on the course.
Gibson – a 29-year-old Australian who now lives in Edmond, Okla., and was inducted into the OC Athletic Hall of Fame in January – more than held his own against his more-famous playing partners, although his putter let him down a bit toward the end of his round, leaving him tied for 63rd among the 72 players who made the cut.
Because of a dire weather forecast for Saturday, the world’s most prestigious tournament – for the first time in its history, which began in 1860 – used split-tee starts, so Gibson’s group started its round on No. 10. He’d birdied that hole during each of his first two rounds, but bogeyed it on Saturday, falling to 3-over for the tournament.
Bogeys at No. 12 and the par-3 No. 15 left him at 3-over for the day and 5-over for the tournament, but he rebounded with a birdie on the par-5 No. 16 and another at No. 1. Another bogey at No. 2 – after he missed a 10-foot par putt – put Gibson 2-over for the day.
At No. 4, he stuck his approach shot to eight feet and nailed it for a birdie. He hit his second shot at the par-5 No. 5 into the rough right of the green, but chipped to about 15 feet and sank the putt, moving him back to even par for the day and 2-over for the tournament.
But he quickly gave those two shots back. He three-putted from about 30 feet at No. 6, and after a chip to within eight feet at No. 7, he pushed his par putt just to the right.
At No. 8 – statistically the hardest hole on the course on Saturday, allowing only six birdies – he missed a 25-foot birdie putt by six inches, and at No. 9, his 30-foot birdie putt was on line but stopped a foot short of the hole.
Woods finished with a 73, leaving him at 3-over for the tournament, while Spieth fired a 5-under 67.
For Gibson’s final round on Sunday, he will be paired with Koumei Oda of Japan and is scheduled to tee off at 9:15 a.m. (3:15 a.m. Oklahoma time).