Irish Open: Pádraig Harrington full of praise for Tom McKibbin and the man on his bag

Leona Maguire has to bide her time to get on to K Club range; Alex Maguire’s dream season rolls on

Tom McKibbin gestures alongside his caddie David McNeilly during the pro-am prior to the Horizon Irish Open at The K Club. Photograph: Oisín Keniry/Getty Images

There is a nice link between Pádraig Harrington, seeking to become the oldest winner on the European Tour at the age of 52, and Tom McKibbin, who claimed his breakthrough success – at the age of 20 – on the circuit when claiming the Porsche European Open earlier this season.

The common connection, of course, is caddie David McNeilly.

McNeilly once upon a time was Harrington’s bagman and, after looping for a number of players since then, has more recently moved on to McKibbin’s tour bag.

“Tom’s a beautiful ball striker, it [was] class the way he finished off the tournament, playing to his own strengths,” said Harrington.


“I think Dave McNeilly did a great job. I’ve got to say I was so impressed with Dave McNeilly. It was great that he let Tom play his game. So many caddies would have gone, ‘hit an iron off the last’ and start getting in his head.

“Even if he’d won the tournament, he’s still getting in his head for the next time when he comes to the 18th: ‘Should I be hitting driver, should I be hitting an iron?’ Dave let him play to his strengths.”

Harrington has been paired with McKibbin and American Tom Hoge for the opening two rounds and remarked: “Looking from the outside, if there’s anything Tom has to deal with himself, it’s going to be expectations. We all say he’s great. We all love the way he hits it. But unfortunately as good a player as you can be in golf, there’s a lot of things that go into every week winning, and you need the right breaks. He just needs to realise he’s going to play golf the next 30 years, and he’s going to have lots of good weeks and be patient and wait for it.”

Let Leona in! Maguire has to bide her time to get on to K Club range

There’s always one, isn’t there? The job’s worth guy.

And here he was on duty – on security – at the player entrance point to practice range for yesterday’s pro-am where, among those playing, was none other than Solheim Cup star Leona Maguire, the world number 17 in the women’s Rolex world rankings and a two-time LPGA Tour winner.

Oh, and for good measure, Maguire is also the touring professional for none other than The K Club, as could be seen on the bag carried by her father/caddie-for-the-day Declan.

Everyone knows her name. She’s now one of the most recognisable figures in Irish sport.

Except, the security man went on a solo power play and stopped the poster girl of Irish women’s golf because a number – 2, apparently – was missing from the official pass full of access numbers she had around her neck.

When a second pass was acquired by a member of her management team, the job’s worth guy still wasn’t happy. “It doesn’t have your photo!”

Only one winner here. Maguire, who had stayed politely quiet through it all, simply moved on to take her rightful place on the range and went on to play with amateur partners on the BMW team, Yvonne Morrison, Yvonne Moore and Marion Keary.

Maguire’s dream season continues with lone amateur invite

A late invitation from the DP World Tour has ensured Alex Maguire can add the Horizon Irish Open on to what has been something of a dream schedule this year, after the Laytown & Bettystown player – who competed in the 151st Open at Royal Liverpool in July and was a member of the losing GB&I team to the USA in the Walker Cup last weekend – got the only amateur spot in the field.

Maguire – who is a student in Florida Atlantic University – is actually one of three members of that Walker Cup team from St Andrews in the field, as Mark Power and John Gough are both making their professional debuts after receiving sponsor’s invitations.

Power has been given a great draw for his first professional event, playing alongside his former Wake Forest colleague Alex Fitzpatrick, who made his pro debut in last year’s Irish Open at Mount Juliet. Fitzpatrick has made a seamless move into the pro ranks, currently placed fourth on the Race to Mallorca Challenge Tour rankings and in the field here thanks to his tied-fifth place finish behind Ludvig Adberg in the Omega European Masters.

Power down for now as hip injury flairs up again

Unfortunate news for Séamus Power who not only misses out on playing in this week’s Irish Open, a tournament ring-fenced in his calendar since the start of the season, but who is likely to be out of action for anything between 10 to 12 weeks depending on how his injured hip responds to further medical treatment.

Power – who is not expected to require surgical intervention – will also obviously miss next week’s BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth and, depending on his recovery, is on a tight timeline if he is to defend his Bermuda Championship title on the PGA Tour in November.

Number: 8/50

Eight players from the world’s top-50 are in the field at The K Club: Rory McIlroy (2), Tyrrell Hatton (13), Shane Lowry (37), Adam Scott (40), Ryan Fox (46), Tom Hoge (47), Billy Horschel (48) and Min Woo Lee (50).


“It’ll be nice for the likes of Ludvig and Nicolai to get to know the guys that they don’t already know, and it’ll be good for the caddies, as well. It’ll be a good trip” – Shane Lowry on the proposed reconnaissance trip to Rome next Monday organised by Luke Donald for players and caddies.

Philip Reid

Philip Reid

Philip Reid is Golf Correspondent of The Irish Times