PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (Dec. 16, 2014) – Look for Oklahoma Christian alumnus Rhein Gibson on the Web.com Tour in 2015.
The OC Athletic Hall of Famer capped an impressive run at the Web.com Tour Qualifying Event on Tuesday, finishing fourth in the 150-man field. Gibson fired a final-round 3-under-par 68 to close at 18-under-par in the six-round event, played on PGA National’s Champion and Fazio courses.
Gibson’s performance bodes well for his future in professional golf, as the Web.com Tour now serves as the primary path for players to reach the PGA Tour.
The top 10 finishers in what’s commonly known as "Q School" earned fully exempt playing status on the Web.com Tour for 2015, until what’s known as the third periodic re-order, which is based on tour performance. At the end of the Web.com Tour season, the top 25 finishers on the tour’s money list are guaranteed PGA Tour cards, and 25 others can earn PGA Tour spots through performance in the Web.com Tour Finals, which are four tournaments played at the end of the season.
Two other Oklahomans who will be exempt through at least the second reshuffle are Ryan Spears of Del City, who finished tied for 16th at 11-under after a closing 67, and former Oklahoma golfer Abraham Ancer, who tied for 35th at 8-under after a closing 67.
Brad Elder, former Tulsa resident, shot 67-67 the final two days to move up to a tie for 54th at 5 under. Trent Whitekiller of Sallisaw tied for 71st at 3 under. Will Kropp of Edmond finished 123rd at 8 over.
With a strong 2015 campaign on the Web.com Tour, it’s quite conceivable that Gibson – a native of Linsmore, Australia, who now lives in Edmond, – could be playing on the PGA Tour in future years.
"It was a fantastic week," Gibson said. "I really struck the ball nicely all week. I holed some putts and did a good job staying in the present. It hasn’t sunk in yet, but as I reflect on the year over the holidays, I’m sure it will."
Gibson, 28, was a four-time NAIA All-America first-team selection (2005, 2006, 2007, 2008), a three-time NAIA Scholar-Athlete and a three-time NAIA All-Tournament pick (2005, 2006, 2008). He won four individual titles – the third-best total in school history–and helped the Eagles to a pair of runner-up finishes and a pair of third-place team showings at the NAIA Championships.
Since leaving OC, he’s worked to establish himself as a professional golfer. Success in 2013 in the China Masters and the Australian Open earned him playing privileges this year on the OneAsia tour, which includes events in Australia, China and Japan, among others.
By finishing fourth at the 2013 Australian Open, he qualified to play in this year’s British Open, in which he made the cut and played in a memorable third-round grouping with Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth. Now he’s a step closer to playing with players like Woods and Spieth on a regular basis.
"Rhein stepped up huge this week," said OC men’s golf coach David Lynn, who caddied for Gibson during Q School. "He played outstanding all week, but especially the last four days. His game, both physically and mentally, has progressed by leaps and bounds over the past three years. This is a huge step for him and one that he is extremely prepared to make.
"Carrying the bag, I had the best seat in the house these past six days, and I am so proud as a coach and friend to see him succeed."
Gibson qualified for the Web.com Tour Q School finals by finishing tied for fourth in the second stage of Q School, played at Deerwood Golf Club in Kingwood, Texas.
During the grueling 108-hole Q School finals, each player played three rounds on both the Champion and Fazio courses at PGA National.
"I really played the back nines solid the last four days," Gibson said. "I feel I have improved a little bit every year these past three years. The experience I have gained playing a variety of tours, and in so many different countries and course conditions, has really aided in the maturation of my game. I am very thankful for all of the support I have received from my friends and family."
Gibson is also known locally as "Mr. 55" for the incredible round of 55 he shot two years ago at River Oaks Country Club in Edmond.
Brad Fritsch of Canada won the tournament by seven shots over Andrew Landry of Austin, Texas. Dustin Bray of Asheboro, N.C., was one shot behind Landry, with Gibson another shot back.
Each player in the field has already earned at least conditional status on the Web.com Tour for the 2015 season, but strong play at Q-School can provide a higher level of security for gaining entry into events.
The top 45 finishers and ties at the conclusion of play are fully exempt until the second reshuffle of the 2015 season. Players outside the top 45 and ties will learn on a week-to-week basis whether their Priority Ranking position is high enough to gain entry into the field.