EDMOND — The lowest round of golf ever recorded was shot by an Oklahoma transplant from Australia.
Rhein Gibson, a former NAIA All-American at Oklahoma Christian, shot a 55 at River Oaks Golf Club two weeks ago.
It's the Guinness World Record.
“I knew it might be special when I made the turn at 10-under, which is crazy,” Gibson said. “I was trying not to think about it, just play one hole at a time.”
A rangy 26-year-old from Lismore, Australia, Rhein (pronounced REE-in) Gibson experienced a dream round on the 6,698-yard, par-71 layout in Edmond.
Gibson recorded two eagles, 12 birdies and four pars.
“It was like watching a no-hitter,” said Ryan Munson, a River Oaks member in Gibson's threesome. Eric Fox was the other golfer in the group.
Gibson plays on the Golfweek National Pro Tour and is ranked 1,444th in the world. He's 14th on the money list with nearly $20,000 in earnings after seven tournaments.
His goal is to play on the PGA Tour. The past three years, he's failed to earn a PGA card or a spot on the Nationwide Tour at qualifying school, but he's playing the best golf of his life.
“The thing about Q school is it's only one week,” Gibson said. “If you're not playing good at that time of year it kind of (stinks). You need to be playing good at the right time. I'm hopeful this year will be different. My game is getting better and better.”
A fledgling pro, Gibson won the 2008 Oklahoma state amateur title at Gaillardia Country Club. He won the Oklahoma Open in 2010 at Oak Tree Country Club.
Oklahoma is his second home.
An Edmond resident who plays out of River Oaks, Gibson played junior golf in Australia. But his native country doesn't have high school or college golf programs like the United States.
Kane Webber, a friend from Australia who played at Colorado and currently is on the Asian Tour, advised him to pursue an education in the United States.
Unlike many high-profile programs, OC could offer a full scholarship. OC coach David Lynn extended an offer to Gibson after a former OC player from Australia provided a scouting report.
“I didn't really know the difference between a big Division I program like Oklahoma State or a small program like Oklahoma Christian,” Gibson said. “I kind of chose my school sight unseen at age 18.”
For the first time in his career, Gibson has an individual sponsor, which has removed some pressure.
“This isn't out of the blue,” said Lynn, who caddied for Gibson when the golfer shot a 64 to qualify for a Nationwide event last year . “I obviously was blown away by the enormity of his score because 55 is so low. But I've seen him gain more confidence every year. It's no surprise he's having some success now that he's not paying for everything on his own dime.”
The lowest round ever shot actually began on the back nine at River Oaks, which had “dual” tee times that Saturday morning.
Starting on the 10th hole, Gibson shot a 10-under 26 on “the front.” His record round started with a par followed by two eagles and six birdies on the first nine holes.
“At that point, I said, ‘I don't care about superstitions, but you're 10-under!'” Munson said. “We high-fived him. It was a lot of fun. Rhein kept it going. He was on all day.”
On the “back nine” Gibson carded six birdies and three pars for a 6-under 29.
The mind-boggling score, oddly enough, was posted on a day Gibson didn't get to warm up on the driving range, which was closed due to heavy rains the previous night.
“The ball didn't roll much,” Munson said. “Several times we had mud on our balls. We played it down. We didn't pick and clean it. It produced some unpredictable shots. The key was his putting.”
Gibson chipped in for an eagle on No. 13, a par 5. He hit 16 greens in regulation, and he logged only 19 putts.
“I've played with Rhein quite a bit,” Munson said. “His ball striking is always very good. But this was one of those days everything was on. Everything went in. What amazed Eric and me was every putt was the perfect speed in the middle of the cup.”
The PGA Tour record is 59, which has been accomplished five times.
Gibson's round equaled a 55 shot in 1962 by Homero Blancas on a par-70 course.
Blancas, who played on the PGA and Senior tours, shot his 55 in a college tournament in Longview, Texas, a course just over 5,000 yards. Guinness now requires courses be 6,500 yards or longer.
“If a golfer played a round in their head, this is how it would go,” Munson said. “Rhein literally missed only two putts the entire round. I was very nervous. And it wasn't even my round.”
Gibson's round has produced media interviews from around the world.
Even if he some day makes the PGA Tour, his 55 on May 12 at River Oaks will always have special meaning.
“Of course,” Gibson said. “This is something I can always draw back on. It gives me confidence I can go low. It's a round I'll never forget.”