Appleby and Jones both signed for 4-under rounds of 66 to be inside the top five at the DAP Championship but Gibson, who was on track for the same score at the turn, stumbled home with two double bogeys and a bogey to slip to a share of 59th.
At 1-over-par Gibson is seven shots off the pace being set by American pair Nicholas Lindheim and Matt Atkins.
Known for his aggressive style Gibson looked on track for a potentially season changing round when he posted four birdies in the opening nine holes to be within two of the lead.
The 31-year-old has been at less than his best for much of 2017 and after missing the cut at each of the first two Finals events his hopes of returning to the PGA Tour in 2018 were looking doubtful.
But his opening nine holes suggested he had found something in his game and he would have headed to the back nine with plenty of confidence.
That soon faded, however, when he missed the green at the 10th and took three putts to hole out for the first of two double bogeys.
Still in decent position in the tournament he righted the ship with four straight pars but after missing the fairway at the 15th and finding a greenside bunker with his second was unable to get up and down.
That bogey dropped him to 1-under but the final insult was to come, another missed fairway at the 18th compounded by a second which found a fairway bunker from where he was unable to reach the green.
Gibson eventually carded his second double bogey of the day to fall to 1-over, a costly series of mistakes he could ill afford given his position on the mini money list which will decide cards for next year.
For Jones and Appleby the first round at Canterbury Golf Club could hardly have been more different to Gibson’s, both playing consistent golf to be T5 after 18 holes.
Appleby recorded six birdies against two bogeys in his round while Jones was bogey free with two birdies on each nine.
Brett Drewitt was also in good form to be 3-under and T11, the last of the eight Australians in red figures after the opening day’s play.
Gibson and Cameron Percy are both 1-over while Jamie Arnold is 2-over but the surprise of the first round was the play of Curtis Luck who finds himself 5-over and needing something special to make the cut.
The talented 21-year-old managed just one birdie in his round against six dropped shots to find himself ahead of only eight players with 54 holes remaining.
PLAYER PROFILE - STACY LEWIS:
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