OC alum Gibson has opportunity to make his name in British Open

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By Murray Evans

OKLAHOMA CITY (July 15, 2014) – Rhein Gibson looks at an entry list that includes golf royalty like Tiger Woods, Ernie Els, Tom Watson and Phil Mickelson and immediately knows his place at the British Open.

“I’m a small fish in a big pond,” said Gibson, a member of the Oklahoma Christian Athletic Hall of Fame. “I’ve got no real credentials I know a lot of the younger (golfers), but Ernie Els and those guys, it will be weird to be playing in the same tournament as them.”

But that’s what the 29-year-old Australian – who was a four-time NAIA All-America pick during his playing days at OC – will be doing this week at Royal Liverpool Golf Club. A fourth-place finish in last December’s Australian Open earned Gibson, who now lives in Edmond, Okla., a spot in the world’s most prestigious tournament.

It will be the biggest sporting event in which an OC graduate has participated since current assistant track and field coach Jeff Bennett finished fourth in the decathlon in the 1972 Olympics in Munich. Gibson is both happy to be playing in his first major tournament and hungry for more.

“It’s definitely an accomplishment to be in my first major,” Gibson said. “There are 156 guys here this week and I’m happy to be one of them. If things don’t go my way, being here is a feat in itself. But I’ve got a great opportunity to show the world I can play this game.

“At this point I don’t have a lot of expectations. It’s already been an awesome week and it’s only going to get better. It will be beneficial for me and my future in golf. These are the guys, if I go get on bigger tours, that I’ll be playing against, so the sooner I can get out here and meet them, the better.”

Among those who will be following Gibson in person this week is OC men’s golf coach David Lynn, who recruited Gibson to OC. Lynn – who last week caddied for Fred Hanover during the U.S. Senior Open at Oak Tree National in Edmond – flew to England on Sunday. After playing a couple of quick rounds himself at Royal Troon and Turnberry in Scotland, Lynn headed to Liverpool to meet up with Gibson.

“I think this is a really big deal,” Lynn said. “For all of the world outside the U.S., the British Open is just ‘The Open.’  It’s the major everyone wants to win and be a part of.  It’s a huge accomplishment. It is the pinnacle of his sport.

“Any time one of your players reaches the highest stage, I think it says a lot about your program. Hopefully it says OC gave him the opportunity to compete and be successful on the course and in the classroom. “ 

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Ken MacLeod

Publisher Golf Oklahoma | Oklahoma's No. 1 Golf Source

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