Oklahoma State Am: An Aussie takes it

EDMOND, Okla. (July 17, 2008)--They may have to play the Oklahoma State Amateur Golf Championship in Australia next year.

That’s because the State Am is played at the home course of the reigning champ, and that champion is Oklahoma Christian University’s Rhein Gibson.

Gibson, a native of Lismore, Australia, who made it to the second round of this year's British Amateur, defeated Edmond’s Andrew Green 2 & 1 in Thursday’s match play championship to claim the 2008 state title.

And while they won’t really go Down Under for the 2009 tourney, Gibson won this year’s event by owning the Gaillardia course for much of Thursday’s action.

Gibson, a four-time All-American at Oklahoma Christian, beat Poteau’s Zachary Pool 7 & 6 in the morning semifinal round, tying for the second-largest margin of victory in the six-round tournament.

He continued his hot streak early in Thursday afternoon’s championship, shooting 5-under-par over the first seven holes to go 5-up on Green.

“I was hoping I didn’t waste all of my good shots this morning because I played really well,” Gibson said. “But I was able to get off to a good start this afternoon, which is really important in match play because it gets your opponent down.”

Gibson birdied No. 1, 2 and 4 – and nailed a 25-foot eagle putt on No. 3 – to capture a quick four-hole advantage in the title match.

Green won No. 5, but Gibson birdied No. 6 and 7 to build his cushion to five holes. He would end up needing just about every bit of it.

Gibson was 4-up through 11 when Green mounted a charge. The University of Central Oklahoma signee eagled 14 and took advantage of two Gibson bogeys to cut the lead to 1-up through 15 holes.

But Gibson responded with a long and straight tee shot on 16, while Green lost his tee shot in the weeds and had to take a two-stroke penalty.

The turnaround widened the gap to two holes with two to play, and Gibson clinched the championship when both players parred 17.

Gibson, who advanced to the State Am quarterfinals last year along with OC teammate Bruno Buccolo, won five tournaments in his collegiate career to rank third on OC’s all-time list behind Buccolo and Juan Lizarralde. He will graduate in December as a three-time NAIA Scholar-Athlete.

“I’ve had the chance to play in a lot of good amateur tournaments, but this is up there as far as wins go,” Gibson said.

--Courtesy Oklahoma Christian

ABOUT THE Oklahoma State Amateur

Open to Oklahoma residents with handicap index of 7.0 or less who have completed qualifying or are exempt. 18 holes of stroke play determines a round of 64 match play bracket.

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