13 Feb 2023 | Professional golf |

Aussies on Tour: Emotion behind Gibson’s Korn Ferry triumph

by Australian Golf Media

Rhein Gibson.

By Tony Webeck

A teary Rhein Gibson has spoken about his long-awaited return to Australia in the wake of his four-stroke victory at the Korn Ferry Tour’s Astara Golf Championship in Colombia.

In a week where a host of Aussies put themselves in contention across the globe, it was Gibson’s twin-eagle back nine of five-under 31 that sealed the four-stroke triumph, his second Korn Ferry Tour win and first since 2019.

That was also the last time Gibson spent time in Australia, COVID-19 travel restrictions and his promotion to the PGA TOUR forcing the Lismore native to remain in the US for the past three years.

That wait ends next week when the 37-year-old returns to New South Wales and tees it up at Oaks Cypress Lakes Resort for the TPS Hunter Valley tournament.

“It’s pretty cool. I haven’t been to Australia since COVID,” said Gibson, fighting to hold back tears.

“I’ve seen my parents, but not many other people. Pretty excited to get home.”

His homecoming was just one of the reasons behind Gibson’s emotional response.

He played 23 events across the 2020/2021 PGA TOUR season with a best finish a tie for 21st at the Corales Puntacana Resort and Club Championship, failing to keep his card as he finished 193rd on the FedEx Cup points list.

Gibson fared little better back on the Korn Ferry Tour in 2022.

But rather than chase status through Qualifying School – or quit professional golf entirely – he took the gamble on playing the 2023 season on past champion status.

“It was definitely a conversation I had to have with my wife (Nancy),” Gibson admitted, who has a two-year-old son.

“I wasn’t sure how much more golf I was going to do. Decided not to go to Q-School, thought I’d takea chance on past champion status.

“Worked my butt off this fall and this wintertime, kind of got my game in shape. I’ve got Scott Couch to thank for that, out of Canada, he’s been helping me a lot.

“The game felt good coming here. I love the place. I knew I could contend and a good round yesterday kind of put me in contention.

“To go out and do what I did today was just insane.”

One stroke back of Kris Ventura at the start of the final round at the Country Club de Bogota, Gibson made his first birdie of the day at the par-4 fourth before making his move at the turn.

A birdie at nine was followed by a monster putt for eagle at the par-5 10th, handing Gibson a handy three-shot buffer moving into the back nine.

Four consecutive pars were followed by a birdie at the par-3 15th to maintain his three-shot advantage from fellow Australian Brett Drewitt and American Brandon Harkins.

American Kevin Dougherty eagled the par-5 18th to set the clubhouse mark at 12-under par, leaving Gibson the task of playing the 72nd hole in bogey or better to secure victory.

He did far better, making his second eagle of the back nine to complete a round of seven-under 64 and a four-shot win in magnificent fashion.

Jason Day’s return to form on the PGA TOUR also continued unabated at the WM Phoenix Open in Scottsdale.

Four back at the start of Round 4, Day posted three-under 68 on Sunday to finish outright fifth, his third top-10 of the season and best result since the Farmers Insurance Open more than a year ago.

“I feel pretty good about how things progressed over the week,” said Day, who is projected to move to 24th in the FedEx Cup points list.

“I feel that the swing is starting to feel a lot more comfortable. Which is good, because at

the start of the week I didn’t have a lot of confidence in my swing. I actually texted my buddy playing down in Australia. I said, ‘My swing, I’m not really confident in it.’

“I just kind of was grinding away and I finished fifth.

“But the putting’s nice. Short game’s looking really good. Good form going into next week.”

Elsewhere this week Mark Hensby and Richard Green finished second and third at the Champions Tour’s Trophy Hassan II in Morocco, Matt Jones’s tie for seventh was the best of the Aussies at the International Series Oman on the Asian Tour and Anthony Quayle led the Australian charge at the Singapore Classic on the DP World Tour, finishing tied for 34th.


Korn Ferry Tour

Astara Golf Championship

Country Club de Bogota (Lagos Cse), Bogota, Colombia

1            Rhein Gibson     68-69-66-64—267           $US180,000

T3          Brett Drewitt     69-69-66-68—272           $44,375

T19        Curtis Luck         71-68-69-68—276           $10,714


WM Phoenix Open

TPC Scottsdale (Stadium Cse), Scottsdale, Arizona

1            Scottie Scheffler              68-64-68-65—265           $3.6m  

5            Jason Day           65-71-68-68—272           $820,000

T50        Lucas Herbert    71-69-73-70—283           $48,543

T57        Danny Lee (NZ)  73-67-73-71—284           $45,600

DP World Tour

Singapore Classic

Laguna National Golf Resort Club, Singapore, Singapore

1            Ockie Strydom  71-68-67-63—269           €317,075.84

T17        Ryan Fox (NZ)    72-68-69-67—276           €22,910.28

T34        Anthony Quayle              71-67-71-70—279           €14,081.90

T42        Dimitrios Papadatos       70-65-73-73—281           €10,258.34

WD        Louis Dobbelaar              71-69-75—232  €3,916.82

MC        Blake Windred  74-69—143

MC        Aaron Pike          74-72—146

MC        Daniel Hillier (NZ)            71-79—150

Asian Tour

International Series Oman

Al Mouj Golf, Oman

1            Takumi Kanaya  69-71-67-71—278           $US360,000

T7          Matt Jones         73-73-67-73—286           $46,750

T24        Kevin Yuan         75-73-71-71—290           $18,500

T30        Travis Smyth      72-76-69-74—291           $15,433.33

T36        Jack Thompson 73-74-72-73—292           $12,828.57

T36        Wade Ormsby   75-75-69-73—292           $12,828.57

T36        Zach Murray      70-72-73-77—292           $12,828.57

T43        Ben Campbell (NZ)          72-75-72-74—293           $10,055.56

T60        Andrew Dodt     77-70-70-79—296           $6,300

T64        Todd Sinnott      70-73-73-82—298           $5,300

T69        Terry Pilkadaris 73-77-73-77—300           $4,400

76          Scott Hend         78-72-76-80—306           $3,200

MC        Jediah Morgan  79-74—153

MC        Marcus Fraser   76-77—153

MC        Peter Stojanovski            79-82—161

Ladies European Tour

Lalla Meryem Cup

Royal Golf Dar Es Salam (Blue Cse), Rabat, Morocco

1            Maja Stark          71-67-69—207  €67,500

MC        Whitney Hillier  77-81—158

MC        Gabriela Ruffels 80-78—158

MC        Momoka Kobori (NZ)      79-80—159

Champions Tour

Trophy Hassan II

Royal Golf Dar Es Salam, Rabat, Morocco

1            Stephen Ames   67-70-73—210  $US320,000

2            Mark Hensby     73-67-75—215  $176,000

T3          Richard Green   72-74-70—216  $109,650

T42        Rod Pampling    75-78-75—228  $8,600

T47        Robert Allenby  77-80-72—229  $7,000

T50        David McKenzie 75-77-78—230  $6,000

T59        John Senden      80-80-75—235  $3,700

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