SCOTTSDALE, AZ – Gibby Gilbert III (Ooltewah, TN), the son of former PGA TOUR and PGA TOUR Champions winner Gibby Gilbert, carded a 7-under-par 64 to lead by one stroke over Mike Grob (Billings, MT), a six-time winner on PGA TOUR Canada, Jean-Francois Remesy (St. Raphael, France), a three-time winner on the European Tour, and Jerry Haas (Winston-Salem, NC), the younger brother of Jay Haas and head golf coach at Wake Forest, after the opening round of the PGA TOUR Champions National Qualifying Tournament at TPC Scottsdale’s Champions Course.
Two-time Champions Tour winner Willie Wood of Edmond is among six players tied for fifth at 5-under 66. Other players with Oklahoma ties include former University of Tulsa player Andre Bossert, tied for 17th at 3-under, Norman native and UCO graduate Jeff Freeman, tied for 35th at 1-under as is former OU player Grant Waite, while former Sooner Glen Day is tied for 45th at even par. See complete scores here.
With ideal scoring conditions, 44 of the 80 players in the field broke par in Round 1 and there were 34 rounds in the 60s. There will be no cut in the 72-hole qualifier. At the end of four rounds, the top-five finishers earn fully-exempt status through the re-order in the 2016 season, while the next seven players will be conditionally exempt. In addition, the top-30 finishers and ties will be eligible to compete for spots in open qualifiers at all co-sponsored events on the PGA TOUR Champions schedule in 2016.
Gilbert, an exempt player on the Web.com Tour in 1999, 2000 and 2008 who turned 50 in October, worked a bit of magic into his round, making birdies on Nos. 7 and 9 after hitting errant shots into the desert. At the par-4 7th hole, Gilbert’s drive found the desert and he then hit an 8-iron second shot six feet from the flag and made it for birdie. Two holes later at the par-5 9th hole, Gilbert’s second shot found the wasteland and, after an 8-iron third shot to 40 feet, he canned the putt for an unexpected birdie. Gilbert closed his round with birdies on three of his final four holes, making an 18-footer at the 18th.
"I was really fortunate to make those birdies near the end of the front nine, I really struggled on those last three holes on that side and to be two-under on those three, I felt like was a difference of probably four strokes," Gilbert said after his round. "I managed to hit some really good shots coming in and I’m excited to get off to this kind of a start."
Q-School Notes: This year marks the 24th National Qualifying Tournament in PGA TOUR Champions history and the fourth held at the Champions Course at TPC Scottsdale Jeff Freeman, the medalist at this venue in 2011, shot 1-under 71 today and is T35. Both Freeman and Wes Short, Jr., the medalist in 2013, shot 20-under 264 when they won here while Peter Senior, the medalist at this course in 2009, shot 17-under 267. A total of 18 former PGA TOUR/Champions Tour winners are entered in this year’s 80-man field, including 1996 U.S Open champion Steve Jones (66/-5) as well as Joe Daley (66/-5), a past major championship winner on PGA TOUR Champions Jim Rutledge of Victoria, Canada, got off to a slow start with a 3-over 74 today. Rutledge has finished among the top-six in his last four trips to the National Qualifying Tournament..Frank Esposito, the medalist at last year’s National Qualifying Tournament, shot 1-under 70. The overall course scoring average for Round 1 was 70.050.