Gibson, Papadatos start hot in Chile - PGA of Australia

Gibson, Papadatos start hot in Chile

He almost didn’t make it into the country but Rhein Gibson has continued his South American love affair with an opening round of seven-under 65 at the Korn Ferry Tour’s Astara Chile Classic.

Making his first start on the Korn Ferry Tour since his win at the Astara Golf Championship in Colombia, Gibson had two eagles on his back nine to move within one stroke of the lead held by American Max Greyserman at the Prince of Wales Country Club in Santiago.

It was an encouraging start too for fellow Australian Dimi Papadatos (pictured) in his Korn Ferry Tour debut, making seven birdies in his round of six-under to be one of eight players in a tie for sixth.

Gibson and Papadatos were both fortunate to make it to the tournament at all, only finding out late that Australians were required to obtain visas prior to entering the country.

“Unbeknown to me, Australians needed a visa to come here,” said Gibson, who was top 10 at both TPS Hunter Valley and the New Zealand Open on his recent return home to Australia.

“The Tour didn’t really know either, so there was a 99 per cent chance I wasn’t coming. But some people with the Tour helped get a visa through.

“I think I got visa through at 2 o’clock on Monday for a 5 o’clock flight Monday night.

“Happy to be here now and happy to take advantage.”

Out in two-under, eagles on three and nine and birdies on four and seven brought Gibson to within one shot of the lead.

“Hit a driver, 3-iron middle of the green to about 40 feet,” Gibson said of his shot into three, his 12th of the day.

“Another putt that you just want to get close and that one went right in the middle, which was nice because I kind of missed a couple coming around the turn.

“Then had a great number at 18 and hit a great 5-iron in there that landed just short of the green.

“The course is starting to firm up, but that one seemed to hit pretty soft and went to about 12, 15 feet and rolled that in to cap off the day.”

Kiwi Michael Hendry is also well placed early in the second round of the Token Homemate Cup in Japan.

Needing a good result to firm up his status on the Japan Golf Tour, the 2023 Vic Open champion carried through his runner-up result at last week’s World City Championship in Hong Kong with an important five-under 66.

“It’s important for me to finish well this week following a good start today,” said Hendry.

“I don’t have full status here, so I need to get a good result to ensure that I can get into most of the events this year.

“I hit 13 out of 14 fairways, hit a lot of greens and even the one I’ve missed it was easy to get up and down from the fringe. It’s been a pretty pleasing start.”

At the PGA TOUR’s Valero Texas Open Harrison Endycott was two-under and tied for 13th early in his first round while Hannah Green (through 13 holes) and Sarah Kemp are the best of the Aussies at the LPGA Tour’s DIO Implant LA Open at one-over par and tied for 50th.

West Australian Hira Naveed’s even par round of 72 leads the Aussie contingent at the Epson Tour’s Casino Del Sol Golf Classic in Arizona.

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