GOLF: CANADIAN RICK GIBSON PULLS AWAY DESPITE ONE-OVER 73
Manila, March 10, 2002 (STAR) By Abac Cordero - Canadian Rick Gibson continued to play catch-me-if-you-can yesterday, padding his lead to six strokes with just 18 holes to play in the 87th RP Open golf championship where Frankie Miñoza, the darling of the crowd, virtually kissed his hopes goodbye when he submitted his worst score as a pro ó an 81 Ė on a sunny, windy day at Wack Wackís east course.
Gibson, rock-steady in his previous rounds of 68 and 69, displayed just enough poise to withstand the blustery winds that swept the entire course and practically the entire field. He carded a 73 for a 210 total that left him at 6-under for the tournament ó and so close to his first-ever RP Open title and the $31,000 top prize.
Barring any major disaster on the fabled par-72 layout, the 40-year-old Gibson, married to Filipina actress Josephine Garcia, will be in for a big party today with only three players ó Koreaís Anthony Kang, Thailandís Chawalit Plaphol and local bet Tony Lascuña ó at even par after the round which produced only two sub-par scores.
Gibson, however, kept his cards close to his chest and, when asked if the title is already in the bag, said: "Itís not (even) anywhere. But Iíd like to shoot under-par again. And if I hadnít been more aggressive (earlier), maybe I wouldnít have made three bogeys midway through the front nine. Then I started doubting a few things but patience kind of ruled."
Gibson, one up on American Greg Hanrahan and five ahead of Miñoza at the start of the day, committed early bogeys on the third after a bad drive, the fourth after miscalculating the wind, and the sixth after sending a 9-iron to the back of the green. But he easily made up for it with a chip-in birdie from 20 feet on the 14th and a 12-foot birdie on the 15th."
"I was just being patient and I knew I wanted to make a birdie before another bogey. I didnít really know what was going on around me other than the two guys I was playing with (Lascuña and Hanrahan). I didnít even know what Frankie was doing. And the way the wind blew today it was really unpredictable. But it was pretty good that not so many guys shot under par," he said.
Kang, the 1999 winner at Southwoods, matched Gibsonís output for the day while Plaphol had a 74 and Lascuña, playing his first tournament in five months, a 75 for an even 216. But they will have a whole lot of catching up to do to probably just give the leader a good fight on the final day of the $175,000 event.
But while Gibson remained afloat for the third straight day, the clubhouse talk revolved around Miñozaís forgettable performance that had the 1998 champion and the sentimental favorite bogeying the first, fifth, seventh and eighth for a front-nine score of 40. The back nine was even worse when he a double bogeyed the 11th and lost four more strokes on the last three holes against a birdie on the 14th.
"Hindi ko na maalala kung kailan ako pumalo ng mahigit sa 80. Ito na nga siguro ang worst round ko as a pro, (I canít remember how long ago I shot an 80. This is probably my worst round as a pro)," said the 42-year-old Miñoza, who turned pro in 1983. "Litong-lito ako sa hangin kanina.(The wind confused me)."
Just the other day, Minoza said: "Ganyan talaga ang golf. Minsan maganda ang palo mo pero may araw naman na maski ano ang gawin mo wala talaga. Minsan nandoon naman ang palo pero ang score wala. Normal Ďyan sa golf. (Thatís golf. Sometimes you hit well but there are times your drive turns bad no matter what you do. Sometimes you hit well but you donít score. Thatís normal in golf)."
The only players breaking par yesterday were Kang Wook-soon who had a 71 for a 217 and Robert Jacobsen who had a 68 ó the best for the day ó for a 220 total. Only five players matched par, including Danny Chia of Malaysia (218), Rhey Luna (219) and 1990 Robert Pactolerin (221). Aside from Miñoza, there were 16 other players who shot in the 80s.
"It was different because the wind was blowing really strong. You have to be careful with your club selection and you canít afford to shoot over the pin. The winds were much stronger than I thought," said Kang.
Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi
2002 by PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS
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