Gibson takes one-shot lead into final round of LECOM Health Challenge

CLYMER, NY – Australian Rhein Gibson looks to capture his first win on the Web.com Tour when he tees off in the final round of the LECOM Health Challenge on Sunday at Peek’n Peak’s Upper Course. Gibson finished birdie-birdie and fired a third-round 4-under 68 on Saturday. His 16-under-par 200 total puts him one-stroke ahead of PGA TOUR Latinoamérica alum Erik Barnes (67) and Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada alum Cheng Tsung Pan (67).

Two back are former PGA TOUR Canada Order of Merit winner Joel Dahmen (68) and Denmark’s Sebastian Cappelen (70).

Within striking distance at 13-under-par 203 are local favorite Dominic Bozzelli (68) and Nate Lashley (70).

“It’s where everyone wants to be,” said Gibson, about his one-shot advantage. “If I can play well tomorrow and put myself in position it would be nice to get it done.”

Gibson started his day a little shaky. The Oklahoma Christian University product dropped shots at holes two, three and seven, but recovered with two birdies to go out in 36. Gibson maintain the momentum and added four birdies on the back including the final two holes to regain the outright lead.

“I stayed patient and made a couple of good birdies at the turn,” he said. “I knew the back nine was gettable, a little tricky, but I’m happy with the finish.”

The 30-year-old from Bendigo, Victoria graduated from the Web.com Tour Finals last year to earn a PGA TOUR card this season. While his rookie campaign on TOUR hasn’t gone as planned, he’s hoping a good week in Clymer, New York will give him the confidence to finish strong. He is currently outside the top 200 in the FedExCup standings. A victory on Sunday would give Gibson enough money to qualify for the Finals if he fails to keep his TOUR card.

“It would be huge,” said Gibson, who doesn’t have a win on a major professional tour. “This would be the biggest win to date for sure.”

A victory would be career changing for Barnes as well, who is bogey-free through 54 holes. The 28-year-old Kalamazoo, Mich. native has made six cuts this season and recorded on top 25, a tie for 23rd at the Air Capital Classic presented by AETNA. He currently sits No. 117 on the money list and hasn’t recorded a top 10 on Tour since a solo second at the Chile Classic last year.

“I’ve only been in this positon one other time,” said Barnes. “I’m playing well, I’m hitting good and the short game is solid. If I can keep those things going, I’ll be happy with the result.”

Pan is playing this week with the Olympic games in Rio on his mind. He started the year with top 10s in two of the first six events on the schedule. The last few weeks have been a bag of mixed results. Entering the week University of Washington alum was No. 39 on the money list. A win would move him inside the top 25 on the money list and earn the 24-year-old from Taipei, Chinese Taipei to a spot in golf’s return to the Olympic games.

“I have always had that in my mind,” said Pan, about the possibility of competing in Rio. “Hopefully I will be on the list next Monday. That would be a fun deal for me.”

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Ken MacLeod

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