Written by Staff@KornFerryTour
BOGOTA, Colombia – Rhein Gibson was already a Korn Ferry Tour winner, but Sunday’s four-stroke victory at the Astara Golf Championship presented by Mastercard marked his first win in a 72-hole event. Gibson, a native of Australia, Edmond resident and member of Oak Tree National, closed with a bogey-free 7-under 64 and capped the lowest round of the week on Country Club de Bogota’s Lagos Course with an eagle at the par-5 18th.
A new addition to the trophy case 🏆
With 148 starts under his belt, Rhein Gibson is now a two-time Korn Ferry Tour champion. pic.twitter.com/AfQKXP8hog
— Korn Ferry Tour (@KornFerryTour) February 12, 2023
Gibson emerged from a crowded leaderboard which, at one point Sunday afternoon, saw six players tied for the lead at 10-under par. The 37-year-old Gibson separated from the pack and reached 13-under par with a birdie at the par-4 ninth followed by an eagle at the par-5 10th. Another birdie at the par-3 15th and the aforementioned eagle at No. 18 took him to 16-under par for the tournament and put him four strokes clear of runner-up and former Oklahoma State golfer Kevin Dougherty.
Gibson’s four-stroke win tied FedExCup champion Patrick Cantlay (2013) and Mark Anderson (2019) for the second-largest margin of victory in the 13-season history of the Astara Golf Championship presented by Mastercard, only trailing Ben Taylor’s six-stroke victory in 2018. It also marked the largest margin of victory in a Korn Ferry Tour event since David Kocher’s six-stroke win at the 2022 Price Cutter Charity Championship presented by Dr Pepper last July.
In addition to being the lowest round of the week on the host course, Gibson’s 64 tied the lowest final round posted in the 13-season history of the Astara Golf Championship presented by Mastercard. The only other final-round 64 produced by a champion of the event came from Mito Pereira in 2020.
Gibson opened his week with a 2-under 68 on Country Club de Bogota’s Pacos Course, the par-70 and 6,249-yard satellite course introduced to the event in 2019. The three previous champions carded a 65 or better on Pacos, but Gibson did the majority of his scoring on the Lagos Course.
After a double-bogey six at Lagos’ par-4 13th in the second round, Gibson made just two bogeys the rest of the tournament and played his final 41 holes at 15-under par.
“This is pretty vindicating,” said Gibson, whose previous Korn Ferry Tour win came at the rain-shortened 2019 BMW Charity Pro-Am presented by TD SYNNEX. “That (win) was a little truncated. We knew going into the third round it was going to be the final round. To get four rounds done, play awesome on the weekend, bogey-free on Sunday, it just takes the cake. I’m over the moon.”
Gibson left Australia at age 18 and played collegiately at Oklahoma Christian University, an NAIA program in Edmond. Gibson garnered four All-America First Team selections (2005-08) and led Oklahoma Christian to the verge of a national title each of his seasons on the team. (Oklahoma Christian won two of the next three NAIA National Championships and eventually joined NCAA Division II after Gibson exhausted his eligibility.)
“It’s pretty surreal to pack my life up in a suitcase and come to America and go to Oklahoma,” Gibson said. “I didn’t even know where it was without an atlas back then.”
Gibson turned professional in 2009 and would not earn Korn Ferry Tour membership until a solo-fourth finish at Final Stage of the 2014 Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying Tournament. In his first season on the Korn Ferry Tour, Gibson closed the the 2015 Korn Ferry Tour Finals with back-to-back top-10s and earned a PGA TOUR card.
Although Gibson fell back to the Korn Ferry Tour after a No. 199 finish in the 2015-16 FedExCup Standings, he graduated again at the conclusion of the 2019 season, doing so off the strength of his aforementioned victory and a T8 at the Astara Golf Championship presented by Mastercard.
The next two seasons on the PGA TOUR, however, Gibson fell outside the top 190 in the FedExCup Standings and was once again relegated to the Korn Ferry Tour. Last season, Gibson missed 14 cuts in 22 starts and had just two top-25s, leaving him at No. 150 on the 2022 Korn Ferry Tour Points List.
“I wasn’t sure how much more golf I was going to do. Decided not to go to Q-School, thought I’d take a chance on (3-4 Years) Past Champion status,” Gibson said. “Worked my butt off this fall and this wintertime, kind of got my game in shape. The game felt good coming here. I love the place. I knew I could contend, and a good round yesterday put me in contention. To go out and do what I did today was just insane.”
At 37 years and 11 days of age, Gibson became the oldest Korn Ferry Tour winner since David Skinns won the 2021 Pinnacle Bank Championship presented by Aetna and punched his ticket to the PGA TOUR at 39 years, 6 months, 14 days of age.
“I’m old now. All these young kids coming out of college, it’s crazy,” said Gibson, who shares a 2-year-old son with his wife, Nancy. “Just shows that I can still hang with these young guys, so it’s pretty cool.”
Paired with a T31 finish from last week’s The Panama Championship (after missed cuts in the first two events of the season), Gibson’s victory moved him to No. 3 on the 2023 Korn Ferry Tour Points List, behind two-time runner-up Cody Blick and points leader Chandler Phillips, who backed up a win in the season-opening event with a T12 the next week.
With a little over five weeks until the Korn Ferry Tour continues its season at the Club Car Championship at The Landings Golf & Athletic Club (March 23-26), Gibson intends to head home to Australia for the first time in more than three years.
“I haven’t been to Australia since COVID,” Gibson said. “I’ve seen my parents, but not many other people. Pretty excited to get home.”
The Korn Ferry Tour is coming to Oklahoma this year with the Compliance Solutions Championship June 22-25 at Jimmie Austin OU Golf Course in Norman. Volunteer and ticket information is available at https://compliancesolutionschampionship.com/
Besides Gibson and Dougherty, other players with Oklahoma ties competing were third-round leader Kris Ventura (OSU), who tied for seventh at 10-under. Tied for 28th at 6-under were former OU Sooners Grant Hirschman, Quade Cummins (Weatherford) and Chris Gotterup. Former Jenks and OSU golfer Brendon Jelley shot even-par and missed making his first Korn Ferry Tour cut by a single shot. Also missing the cut were Logan McAllister (OU and Oklahoma City) and Tag Ridings, who grew up in Tulsa.