Rhein wakes the US at the Sleep-In
By STEVE SPINKS
OUTSTANDING Lismore junior Rhein Gibson has broken through to win his first university golf tournament in the United States.
Gibson, who is in the first year of a business degree with the Oklahoma Christian University, won the Sleep-In Classic at his home course of River Oakes in Oklahoma City.
The 19-year-old finished four-under par for the 36 hole event, winning by six shots.
Gibson's mother Julie had trouble contacting her son immediately after the victory. But she had spoken with him earlier.
"He was pretty happy because he had hit two sub-par rounds," Mrs Gibson said.
"It's about time he hit his straps.
"He's been well ahead of the rest of the team in qualifying, but he hasn't put it together during a tournament ... until now.
"We're very happy for him."
Gibson has become a regular on the Oklahoma team and has travelled extensively throughout the US, including tournaments as far afield as New York, Georgia, Florida, Kansas and Seattle.
In university competition, a team of five contests each tournament, even though each college may have 16 golfers on scholarships.
Gruelling qualifying rounds are often fought out internally before each competition.
During the tournament in Oklahoma, Gibson was joined by three South Americans and one American golfer in the team of five.
Currently the Oklahoma Christian University is ranked the number two private college in the USA, but they are expected to capture the number one spot in the near future.
The Sleep-In Classic was the fourth tournament of the spring season and Oklahoma are undefeated.
With the American summer break fast approaching, Gibson is looking at staying on in the States to compete in a number of tournaments.
Already his university has nominated him for a qualifying tournament for the US Amateur.
"I think it's more for experience than anything else," Mrs Gibson said.
"But if he plays well, who knows?"