Gibson carded a 2-under 70 Sunday and with a 2-under 140 total is the leader at the halfway pole of the Barton Creek Austin Canadian Tour Pro Am Classic presented by Yes! Golf. Sitting just one shot back is 2004 money winner Erik Compton of Miami, Fla. Americans Steve Schneiter and Brien Davis are at even-par 142 while four others, including Jim Rutledge of Victoria, B.C., are just three shots back.
First-round leader Michael Beard struggled to an 82 on the 7,161-yard Fazio Canyons course to fall into a tie for 38th.
David Hearn of Brantford, Ont., Canadas newest member on the PGA Tour, will not be around Monday and Tuesday after coming in at 9-over 151, one shot shy of the cutline.
Sixty-seven players were 8-over 150 or better to make the cut on the professional side of the tournament, while the amateur event was reduced to the low 15 teams. The Fazio Canyons course will play host to the two final rounds.
Former National Football League quarterback Billy Joe Tolliver posted a 74 on the Crenshaw Cliffside track to finish with a two-day total of 158. Green Bay Packers kicker Ryan Longwell closed out at plus-23 (89,76).
Gibson, who took on the tougher Fazio course Sunday, is playing this season on a medical exemption after missing the entire 2004 campaign recovering from shoulder surgery. After winding up 68th on the Tour money list in his 2003 rookie season, Gibson is making his return this week and it would seem the long layoff hasnt affected him in the least. A win this week would leave him with exempt status through 2007.
With a swirling wind blowing throughout Barton Creek Sunday, Gibson managed five birdies to offset the three bogeys he put on his scorecard.
You are going to make some bogeys on this golf course, but you have to take advantage of your birdie chances when they come along, said Gibson. I figured par out here is a good score, anything else is just a bonus.
Starting his day on the tenth tee, Compton flirted with disaster when he four-putted for an uncharacteristic triple bogey on the par-4 18th. The former U.S. Walker and Palmer Cup team member turned it around at the turn and was two strokes in the red on the inbound nine.
That (Crenshaw) was more of a putting golf course, and I just didnt make anything, admitted Compton. I did miss a couple of short ones, and that wind was tricky all day long. It was a hard putting day, but I was able to bring it home because of the way I struck the ball.
Gibson, whose 11th-place showing in Austin two years ago was his best finish in his rookie season, has turned to using a lower-trajectory shot off the tee this year and is leaving his driver in the bag more often than usual. With the unpredictable Texas winds adding another dimension to the already-challenging Barton Creek layouts, the decision seems to be paying off.
You can hit 2-iron here all day long and still play this course, he added. Just get it in the fairway. To be honest, I like those harder conditions. You have to think about every shot and manage your way around the course. Whatever it gives me, Ill take it.
Coming off a season that saw him earn two wins with another four top-four finishes in just seven starts, Compton has put himself in ideal position for a run at his fourth Tour championship since 2003.
Its still early in the week, said Compton, who followed up a triumph in Morocco by making the cut at the PGA Tours Ford Championship at Doral earlier this month. I turned it around on my back nine (Sunday), but it is still a little disappointing. Ive put myself in pretty good shape, now I just have to keep it rolling.
With the hottest player on the Canadian Tour in the past year right on his tail after two days, Gibson stressed he doesnt plan on making any changes for Monday.
Im just going to go out and try to keep doing what Ive been doing, said Gibson. A lot of the way you play your round is going to depend on that wind.
Its a different outlook for me this year. Im not letting things get to me. Im thankful to play golf, so there is no point getting upset. There are a lot worse things I could be doing. Lets just see what happens.