Rhein Gibson owns the world record score for 18 holes – a 16 under 55. He says his course record 64 to rocket into Australian PGA contention was even better, reports Steve Keipert
BY STEVE KEIPERT AT RACV ROYAL PINES RESORT
TWO holes into his second round, Rhein Gibson had slipped to nine-over par and was contemplating a weekend at home playing with club golfers. Sixteen holes later, he was just a shot off the lead at the Australian PGA Championship.
The mercurial pro from Lismore, not far across the New South Wales border from the Gold Coast, reeled off seven birdies and two eagles to rocket to one-under-par after a second-nine 29 in a 64 that establishes a new course record for the RACV Royal Pines Resort.
Known for his ability to get on birdie streaks – Gibson owns the world record for the best 18-hole round with a 16-under 55 shot in 2012 – he was on a tear today. His 64 is a 15-shot improvement on his opening 79.
"I started bogey, bogey to go to nine-over for the tournament and really didn't want to be here," said Gibson, who said he drew inspiration from Rod Pampling's 61 scored after an opening bogey at the Australian Open last Sunday. "I chipped in for eagle on nine, which was the turning point. Kind of gave me a sniff of making the cut, because that was really my main goal today after playing so poorly yesterday."
Given the circumstances and ground conditions, Gibson contends it was a better round than his world-record effort.
"Under tournament conditions, this course is tough. The greens are firm, they're like cricket pitches and they're not very true, either, because they're so new. To be able to do that on a Friday to make the cut and get back in contention, it's probably better than 55."
Gibson admitted post-round that his intentions were to return to Lismore and "probably play in the [club] comp tomorrow" had he missed the cut, but instead he has a chance to win the PGA, sitting just two shots off David Lingmerth's midpoint lead.
Gibson played in the penultimate group on Sunday at the Australian Open but fell away with a 75. Now he has a chance for redemption.
"Obviously double digits [under par] isn't going to win this week. Four-, five-, six-under is probably going to win if the wind stays up," he said. "If I'm playing the PGA Tour there's no reason why I can't contend in these events. I was a little bummed out after my round yesterday. I just couldn't get anything going yesterday and really struggled on the greens. My speed was horrible yesterday, so it was good to come out and make a couple today."
Gibson's 64 was the round of the day by three strokes - so why does he have a knack for shooting scores so far under par?
"I'm not necessarily thinking about the score," he says of his thoughts and feelings during a hot round. "I take each hole as it is and try to hit the right shot that it's calling for, whether it's 20 feet to the right, putt across the green or intentionally miss the green short and get an up and down for birdie on a par-5. I just try to play what the hole gives me and play percentages.
"I played the last ten holes nine-under. Surreal, mate."