13 Feb 2023 | Professional golf |
Aussies on Tour: Emotion behind Gibson’s Korn Ferry triumph
by Australian Golf Media
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
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
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
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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