Heading into the day three shots in front of Erik Compton, the 31-year-old fired a final-round 2-under 70 and finished four trips around Barton Creek Resort and Spa with an 8-under 278 total, a full nine shots clear of runners-up Compton, Brian Guetz and five-time PGA Tour champion Blaine McCallister.
Brad Fritsch of Manotick, Ont., the circuit Most Improved Canadian in 2004, came in with a 73 to wind up in a tie for sixth spot at plus-3.
Guetz, who played north of the border in 2000 and 2001, earned his way back on Tour earlier this month at Winter Qualifying School in California.
For Compton, Tuesday marked his sixth consecutive top-three finish dating back to last year. In that span, the former U.S. Walker and Palmer Cup team member, who led the Canadian Tour in earnings in 2004, has notched wins at the E-Loan Central Valley Classic and the MTS Classic.
But this week belonged to Scott Gibson.
It was the largest margin of victory on the Canadian Tour since 1999 when American Arron Oberholser set a Tour record with an 11-shot triumph at the Ontario Open Heritage Classic. Derek Gillespie of Oshawa, Ont. won the 2003 Corona Ixtapa Classic by eight strokes.
Im just ecstatic, said Gibson. What better feeling can you have than this?
Even more impressive is the fact that Gibson, at eight strokes in the red, was the only player under par for the week.
Any hopes of a dramatic finish in the 2005 Tour curtain-raiser were erased before the leaders turned for home as Compton faltered early, allowing Gibson to increase his edge to seven shots. With just one question remaining--whether or not Gibson would equal or surpass Oberholsers benchmark--the trophy engraver in Austin likely had an early day Tuesday.
You know, I wasnt even telling myself I only had nine holes to go, he admitted. I was playing head games with myself, telling myself there were three full rounds left. You start trying to protect that lead, and you never know what can happen. I just wanted it to end, but at the same time I was telling myself Youve worked hard for this. This is what it is all about. Enjoy it.
Tuesday afternoon marked the end of a frustrating year and a half for Gibson, who had a season-best 11th-place showing at Barton Creek in his 2003 rookie season. After placing 68th on the money list that year to retain his playing card, Gibson missed the entire 2004 campaign recovering from shoulder surgery. Using a medical exemption for this year, Gibson couldnt have asked for a more memorable return to the Canadian Tour ranks. He led for the final three rounds of the tournament and will now hold exempt status through 2007.
But even in his finest hour as a pro, Gibson couldnt help but tip his cap to Compton.
Erik is not only a great player, but just a great guy. His game was going sideways today, and he was rooting me on. He was telling me he was playing for second, that my game was just too strong this week. Id have no problems teeing it up with him again. He is a fantastic guy to play a round of golf with.
Medallists at the two recent winter qualifying schools made substantial moves north on the leaderboard in the final round. Chris Cureton of McKinney, Tex. vaulted 30 spots to 14th with a final-round 66. Close friends and California Q-School co-medallists John Mallinger and Peter Tomasulo each carded a 67 to move into fifth and sixth, respectively. Mallinger began the day in 24th place while Tomasulo was 30th.
It is a short week for the Canadian Tour as the Barton Creek Austin Canadian Tour Challenge presented by Yes! Golf is slated to get underway Thursday. The Golf Channel will feature live four-round coverage to wrap up the two-week Texas swing.