Former Oklahoma Christian golfer, 2010 Oklahoma Open champion and current Edmond resident Rhein Gibson earned his 2016 PGA Tour card by finishing 10th in the Web.com Tour finals, in which the top 25 in a series of four season-ending events earn cards for next season.
Gibson moved up from 18th to 10th with a fourth-place finish in the final event after back-to-back rounds of 65 Saturday and Sunday in the final event at TPC Sawgrass Dye’s Valley course. He earned $81,942.85 in the four events.
Another former collegiate golfer in Oklahoma, Tyrone Van Aswegen, formerly of Oklahoma City University, earned his card after tying for fifth place.
Van Aswegen ended in 34th place on the Web.com Tour priority ranking, which includes the 25 top finishers in the Web.com money leaders and the 25 top finishers in the season’s last four tour events. Van Aswegen’s 67-69-66-68-270 earned him $35,125 from this weekend. Van Aswegen picked up $49,637.30 during the four-event Web.com Tour finals.
"He played incredibly well this weekend," OCU coach Kyle Blaser said.
On the PGA Tour this year, Van Aswegen collected $168,234 while recording a 71.68 scoring average in 20 events. His Web.com Tour numbers this season were $56,512.55 in earnings and a 70.82 scoring average in 10 tournaments.
The next PGA Tour season opens Oct. 15-18 with the Frys.com Open at the Silverado Resort and Spa in Napa, Calif.
Not so fortunate was Ryan Spears of Del City, who missed the cut and fell from 21st out of the top 25. He will be back on the Web.com Tour in 2016 along with Kevin Tway, Tag Ridings and Brad Elder, among players with Oklahoma ties who competed in the Finals but finished outside the Top 25.
Tway had an excellent chance to join Gibson, but bogeys on holes 15 and 16 dropped him out of the top 25.
Gibson will join Bo Van Pelt of Tulsa as current Oklahoma residents with PGA Tour cards. Robert Streb, a current resident of Kansas City, grew up in Oklahoma, while Jimmy Walker is a native of Oklahoma City. Gibson is an Australian who came to the U.S. to play collegiate golf.
Among the most prominent PGA Tour golfers who played their collegiate golf in Oklahoma include former Oklahoma State players Rickie Fowler, Morgan Hoffmann and Charles Howell.
It was the sixth top-10 finish of the year for Gibson, who’s from Linsmore, Australia, and now lives in Edmond, Okla. Two of those top 10s came during the Web.com Tour’s postseason. On Sunday, he finished three shots behind Emiliano Grillo, two shots behind Chez Reavie and one shot behind Sam Saunders.
The Web.com Tour Championship was the last of four events in the tour’s postseason and was open to the top 75 players from the tour’s money list, numbers 126 to 200 in the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup standings and non-members who earned enough money during 2015 to have finished in the top 200 of those standings if they been eligible to receive points.
The top 25 finishers on the Web.com Tour postseason money list earned 2016 PGA Tour cards, and Gibson – who entered the week at No. 18 on that list – jumped up to No. 10 after earning $48,000 for his fourth-place finish in the Web.com Tour Championship. That lifted his postseason total to $81,943 and his combined regular season and postseason amount to $210,896 overall, good for 19th on the tour.
Gibson sizzled during three of his four rounds on the 6,847-yard Dye’s Valley layout. He opened Thursday with a 7-under 63 to take the first-round lead, but gave most of that back on Friday with a 76. But he rebounded with a pair of 65s on the weekend to zoom back up the leaderboard. He posted the tournament’s best score on Saturday and the second-best score in the final round.
On Sunday, he birdied No. 2, No. 6, No. 7 and No. 9 on the front side, then went to 6-under for the round after birdies on No. 15 and No. 16, moving within a shot of Grillo. But Gibson hit his tee shot and second shot on the par-4 No. 18 into the rough and he wasn’t able to get up-and-down, settling for a bogey – his only one of the round.
But by that point, he was assured of a PGA Tour card, ending a quest that began not long after he graduated from OC in 2008. After seven years of competing on mini-tours in the U.S. and on lesser-known tours overseas – and just one year on the Web.com Tour – Gibson is headed to the big time.
He just missed earning his PGA Tour card during the Web.com Tour’s regular season. The top 25 finishers on the regular-season money list received cards, with Gibson coming in at No. 33 on that list with $128,953.
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’s most famous for a memorable round in May 2012 at River Oaks Golf Club in Oklahoma City, during which he set a world scoring record by shooting a 55. He also qualified for the 2014 British Open and played in a memorable third-round grouping with Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth.
He was inducted into the OC Athletic Hall of Fame in 2014.