Rhein Gibson wins Astara Golf Championship presented by Mastercard
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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, 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.
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 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, Oklahoma. 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.”
Rhein Gibson (1st / -16) ranked second in the field with 23 total birdies (two eagles, 21 birdies), only behind Rico Hoey’s 25 total birdies (one eagle, 24 birdies)
Kevin Dougherty (2nd / -12) recorded his fourth runner-up finish in his 114th career Korn Ferry Tour start; he has now recorded a top-three finish in each of his five sesaons as a Korn Ferry Tour member
Dougherty also recorded his second career top-10 at the Astara Golf Championship presented by Mastercard (T6 in 2018)
Brett Drewitt (T3 / -11), a two-time Korn Ferry Tour graduate, recorded his Tour-leading third top-10 of the season (T4 at The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay; T8 at The Panama Championship)
Ryan McCormick (T3 / -11), who finished No. 28 on the 2022 Korn Ferry Tour Points List off the strength of a T2 finish at the Astara Golf Championship presented by Mastercard, records his second top-three finish in as many starts at this event; he also ended a drought of 11 starts without a top-10
Brandon Harkins (T3 / -11) recorded his second top-three finish in his third career start at the Astara Golf Championship presented by Mastercard (T3 in 2017), as well as his first top-10 since a win at the 2022 The Bahamas Great Abaco Classic at The Abaco Club, the second event of last season
First-year member Ryan Gerard (T3 / -11), who finished No. 5 in the 2022 PGA TOUR Canada Fortinet Cup and T45 at Final Stage of the Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying Tournament for conditional membership this season, recorded his first top-10 in his fifth career Korn Ferry Tour start
Two-time Korn Ferry Tour winner and outright 54-hole leader Kris Ventura (T7 / -10) settles for his first top-10 since the 2022 HomeTown Lenders Championship last May
Second-year member John Augenstein (T7 / -10) recorded his first top-10 in his 29th career Korn Ferry Tour start; his only previous finish better than T32 was a T12 at the 2022 BMW Charity Pro-Am presented by TD SYNNEX
Three-time PGA TOUR winner Jonas Blixt (T7 / -10), playing out of the “Nos. 151-200 from 2021-22 FedExCup Standings” category, records his first top-10 in PGA TOUR-sanctioned play since a solo-fifth at the PGA TOUR’s 2019 Charles Schwab Challenge
Rico Hoey (T7 / -10) entered the 2023 season with four top-10s in 72 career Korn Ferry Tour starts; he posted back-to-back top-10s at last week’s The Panama Championship and this week’s Astara Golf Championship presented by Mastercard
Making his 39th career Korn Ferry Tour start in his second season as a member, Jake Knapp (T7 / -10) recorded his second career top-10 and first since a T9 at the 2020 El Bosque Mexico Championship
Two-time Korn Ferry Tour winner Ben Kohles (T7 / -10) recorded his second consecutive top-10 at the Astara Golf Championship presented by Mastercard (solo second in 2020) and second top-10 in four starts this season; he finished T7 at The Bahamas Great Abaco Classic at The Abaco Club
Isaiah Salinda (T13 / -9), the third-to-last player in the field (No. 153 of 156), recorded his first career made cut and closed with a 6-under 65, tied for the second-lowest round Sunday, for his first top-25
Alex Weiss (T19 / -7), who finished No. 94 on the 2022 Korn Ferry Tour Points List and was the second-to-last player in the field (No. 154 of 156), recorded a top-25 and earned a spot in the next Korn Ferry Tour event; this week was his first start of the 2023 season and marked his first top-25 since a T7 at the 2022 Veritex Bank Championship last April
Along with Gerard, Salinda, and Weiss, other members from the “Additional Qualifying Tournament Finishers” category who recorded top-25s this week for a spot in the next Korn Ferry Tour event included: world No. 129 Yuto Katsuragawa (T19 / -7), Jacob Bridgeman (T19 / -7), and Brian Campbell (T17 / -8), who eagled his final hole to move into the top 25
At Final Stage of the 2022 Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying Tournament, Campbell bogeyed his 71st hole and fell to T45, missing guaranteed starts for the first eight events of the 2023 season by a single stroke