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."