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Original Issue

The Pro With A Full Plate

Every year during the week of the Freeport-McDermott Classic
outside New Orleans, Louisiana's own Kelly Gibson plays
galloping gourmand, leading fellow players on merry hunts for
the best food in the best eating town on Tour. "This is my
major," Gibson says of the Classic, an event so laid-back that
insiders call it the Rhythm and Greens. The tournament is held
near his boyhood stomping grounds in Algiers, La., where he grew
up hunting wild pigs, racing home for lunch to chow down on his
mom's beer-battered shrimp po'boys. Today the 33-year-old
Gibson, a seven-year Tour veteran who won $267,230 to rank 92nd
on the 1997 money list (he's No. 114 this year with $51,865),
weaves his own agenda around the official doings staged by
tournament sponsors. "I'll tell the guys, 'There's a party at
the Aquarium on Tuesday. I can get you into Emeril's for a great
meal on Wednesday night. Thursday's a sponsor's party at the
Acme Oyster House with enough shrimp, catfish, crawfish and
po'boys for a Bubba Gump commercial,'" says Gibson, who spends
months preparing for his hosting duties during party--uh,
tournament--week. "Blaine McCallister loves the chicken
Rosmarino at Irene's. Scott McCarron ate at Emeril's before he
won here in '96, so he'll want the same table again. Phil
Blackmar, Ed Fiori and Billy Ray Brown? Those guys'll want to
try a different place every night," says Gibson, who calls the
5'7", 210-pound Fiori a candidate to break the Acme Oyster House
record for eating raw oysters: 32 dozen in one sitting.

But with so many hungry golfers crowding the Quarter this week,
you won't find Gibson eating out. "I'll be lying low with my
girlfriend, ordering in." Pizza? Chop suey? "No way," says
Gibson, who keeps a secret or two to himself. "There are 30 fine
food restaurants that'll deliver to me."

--Gary Bridges

COLOR PHOTO: JUDI BOTTONI BIG EASY STREET Tour players visiting New Orleans this weekwill eat better if they get Gibson to share his local knowledge. [Kelly Gibson at table with platters of crawfish]