Tom McKibbin says he “learned I’m good enough to win” after claiming a sensational victory at the European Open, with the Northern Irishman – who comes from the same town as Rory McIlroy – admitting ” it probably won’t sink in until tomorrow’
- Tom McKibbin won his first DP world title at the European Open on Sunday
- The 20-year-old is from the same Northern Ireland town as Rory McIlroy
- McKibbin backed his compatriot to win the Memorial Tournament in Ohio
There seems to be more than one Holywood star. Tom McKibbin, from that same Northern Irish town of 12,000 as Rory McIlroy, demonstrated the immensity of his own talent by winning his first DP World Tour title at the European Open on Sunday.
The 20-year-old didn’t graduate from the Challenge Tour until November, but he lit up what had been a promising rookie season with a stunning two-part victory at the Green Eagle in Hamburg.
His winning putt came just over two hours before McIlroy headed into the final duet of the Memorial Tournament in Ohio, where he shared the lead with David Lipsky and Si Woo Kim.
With McIlroy chasing his 24th PGA Tour victory, not to mention a return to form ahead of this month’s US Open, it raised the possibility of an extraordinary sporting double in a small corner of County Down. The fact that they are from the same Holywood Golf Club adds to the oddity of a great story.
McKibbin has a very long way to go to warrant any meatier comparison, but he clearly has the game and the temper to make a name for himself.
Tom McKibbin won the European Open at Green Eagle Golf Course in Hamburg on Sunday
The 20-year-old Irishman claimed his first DP world title with a stunning two-stroke victory.
He opened his final round at six under par and in the pressurized scenario of a tie at six for the lead.
If that was daunting, he rose to the challenge beautifully with birdies on the fourth, sixth and ninth holes to pull two shots clear of Germany’s Max Kieffer at the turn.
By the time McKibbin reached 14th, the pair were level – the Northern Irishman bogeyed on a wayward drive at 11 and he dropped another with a five at 13 – and soon after , Marcel Siem reached the clubhouse at seven under, which means a tie between three .
The question was whether McKibbin could withstand the heat, but he birdied 15 after a near miss with the water and delivered one of the shots of the tournament at the last when, behind a tree and 205 yards from the green, he fired a five iron to eight feet.
He missed the eagle putt but a birdie for a closing 70 made for a stunning breakout triumph.
He said: “I haven’t been on my phone yet, but hopefully Rory can win tonight.”
He backed Rory McIlroy, from the same town in Northern Ireland, to win the memorial tournament
“Winning means a lot – it’s what I’ve worked hard for all my life, so to have him today is pretty special. I’ve learned that I’m good enough to win. I always thought I I was, but proving it today was pretty special.
“I guess I learned a lot from failures, missed cuts and slightly missed things.” So taking those things that I learned and putting them into play was nice. It probably won’t sink until tomorrow.
“There was a bit of nerves on the 18th, but not as much as I expected. Fortunately, I was able to take the club. It was such a good shot, it was pretty amazing.
McKibbin, the world No. 335, is expected to climb to No. 159 when the new rankings are released this week.