HOYLAKE, England (July 20, 2014) – Even if he didn’t post the score he wanted, Rhein Gibson left Royal Liverpool Golf Club on Sunday knowing he at least finished strong.
Gibson’s final-round 6-over-par 78 at the British Open looks a lot better when one considers he birdied three of his final six holes. The Oklahoma Christian alum finished his first major championship at 10-over-par 298, in 72nd place overall, earning himself a paycheck of about $20,840.
The 29-year-old Australian, who lives in Edmond, Okla., and was inducted into the OC Athletic Hall of Fame in January, had a most memorable tournament. He made the cut with a dramatic 15-foot birdie putt on No. 18 to end the second round on Friday, then received worldwide media attention while playing in a Saturday grouping with Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth.
“Well, it wasn’t the weekend I wanted, but I’m happy I made the cut in my first major,” Gibson said. “What a treat to play with Tiger and Spieth on Saturday. I wish my game was in a better place overall, but playing four days is better than two. It will be an event I will never forget.”
Paired with Koumei Oda of Japan on Sunday, Gibson started slow, bogeying No. 1 after hitting his tee shot into the left rough, then three-putting for bogey at No. 4. After another bogey at No. 6, disaster struck at No. 7, as Gibson hit into the gorse and took a triple bogey, putting him at 6-over for the round on the 7,312-yard Royal Liverpool course.
But the four-time NAIA All-American – who gained fame in May 2012 for a world-record round of 55 at River Oaks Golf Club in Oklahoma City – kept his composure, even after bogeys on No. 10 and No. 12 put him at 8-over for the round and 12-over for the tournament.
At the par-3 No. 13, Gibson hit his tee shot within five feet, prompting a roar from the crowd gathered around the green. He made the birdie putt. He bogeyed No. 15, but quickly rebounded, getting up and down out of a greenside bunker for a birdie at the par-5 No. 16. He closed his round with another birdie on the par-5 No. 18.
Gibson finished only two shots behind reigning U.S. Open champion Martin Kaymer and ahead of reigning Masters champion Bubba Watson, who did not make the cut.
Oda, Gibson’s playing partner on Sunday, shot a 67 and finished at 1-under for the tournament. Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland won the title, shooting 17-under 271 to win his third major championship.