OC alum Gibson holes pressure putt on No. 18, makes cut at British Open

OC alum Rhein Gibson hits out of the rough at No. 1 at Royal Liverpool Golf Club on Friday in the second round of the British Open. He parred the hole.
OC alum Rhein Gibson hits out of the rough at No. 1 at Royal Liverpool Golf Club on Friday in the second round of the British Open. He parred the hole.

HOYLAKE, England (July 18, 2014) – It was the biggest putt of Rhein Gibson’s life – which is saying something for a guy who once shot a world-record 55 – and the Oklahoma Christian alum responded the way he has so many times before.

A four-time NAIA All-American while at OC, Gibson made the 15-footer for a birdie on No. 18 as darkness descended at Royal Liverpool Golf Club, capping a 2-over-par 74 and allowing him to make the cut on the number in the world’s most prestigious tournament.

“I am stoked to make the cut,” Gibson said. “I made it tough on myself having to birdie the last hole. I’m glad I held my nerve and managed to make a good putt.”

He joined a host of famous names tied for 56th at 2-over for the tournament, including former British Open champs Tiger Woods (who also birdied No. 18 to make the cut) and Tom Watson, among others. When the tournament resumes Saturday morning, Gibson – who was inducted into the OC Athletic Hall of Fame in January – will be among 72 golfers remaining from a field that originally numbered 156.

The 29-year-old Australian – who now lives in Edmond, Okla. – will be paired Saturday with Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth and will tee off from No. 10 at 11:01 a.m. (5:01 a.m. Oklahoma time). They trail the leader, Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, by 12 shots.

Gibson called it “a surprise” that he’ll get to play with Woods, who has won 14 majors and remains arguably golf’s most popular player. As a result, there’s little doubt that Gibson will show up on worldwide television broadcasts on Saturday.

After shooting a 72 on Thursday in the first round at 7,312-yard Royal Liverpool, Gibson was in the second-to-last group to play on Friday. He opened with three straight pars, but three-putted No. 4 to bogey and go 1-over.

At No. 7, Gibson pulled his tee shot into the tall grass on the links course and had an unplayable lie. He also three-putted that hole for a double bogey and made the turn at 3-over, the same score as he had at that point in the first round.

He birdied the par-5 No. 10 for the second straight day, then followed that by sinking an 8-foot birdie putt at No. 11 to move back to 1-over. But he again found trouble at No. 14, hitting his tee shot into the rough and again having an unplayable lie, and recorded another double bogey, leaving him in danger of missing the cut.

“I missed it left and made double,” he said. “That really hurt.”

Gibson hit a 6-foot par putt on No. 16 but missed a 12-footer for birdie at No. 17, leaving him with one last chance to make a birdie and thus make the cut.

His tee shot at the par-5 No. 18 went into the light rough and his second shot found a greenside pot bunker. His shot from there ended up 15 feet from the hole, setting up the putt that means he’ll keep playing this weekend.

Among those who did not make the cut included former major winners Bubba Watson (the reigning Masters champion), John Daly, Todd Hamilton, Ben Curtis, Justin Leonard, Ernie Els, David Duval, Nick Faldo, Paul Lawrie and Sandy Lyle.