Irish 15-year-old Tom McKibbin impresses on debut at pro event

Co Down native carded a one under par round of 71 at the Shot Clock Masters

Northern irish amateur Tom McKibbin walks on the 5th hole fairway during day one of the 2018 Shot Clock Masters at Diamond Country Club in Atzenbrugg, Austria. Photo: Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

Northern irish amateur Tom McKibbin walks on the 5th hole fairway during day one of the 2018 Shot Clock Masters at Diamond Country Club in Atzenbrugg, Austria. Photo: Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

 

At just 15 years old, Co Down’s Tom McKibbin should be looking forward to the start of the school holidays but instead he’s making his debut on the European Tour and impressing along the way.

McKibbin – who comes from Holywood Golf Club which is also home to Rory McIlroy – opened with a round of 71 for one under par and a share of 39th place, just five off the lead held by Sweden’s Oscar Lengden at the Shot Clock Masters in Austria.

The 15-year-old recently won the Junior Honda Classic and the Doral Publix Jr Classic Orangebowl Championship in the United States and is making serious waves in the amateur game where he represents Ireland at under-18 level.

Four birdies on the way out meant he completed his first nine holes at a professional event in just 33 shots before a double bogey at the 11th knocked him back to one under, the score at which he would finish.

Dubliner Gavin Moynihan matched McKibbin’s efforts with a round of 71 while Ruaidhrí McGee could only manage a 73.

Moynihan is still yet to make a cut on the European Tour since earning his card last November although his recent win at the Golf Sixes event, alongside Paul Dunne, was a major boost.

The event – held at Diamond Country Club in Atzenbrugg – is the first in professional golf to introduce a shot clock.

A digital clock mounted on a buggy follows each group and each player will has 50 seconds to take their shot if they are first to play, including tee shots on par threes, or 40 seconds for tee shots on other holes or when second or third to play while players incur a one-shot penalty for each bad time incurred. Remarkably, however, none were handed out with some groups finishing in less than four hours.

Despite his 54 years of age, the quick play didn’t perturb Miguel Angel Jimenez too much as he carded an opening round of 67.

“I think I’ve never played that quick before,” Jimenez, 54, said. “I feel like I was running a marathon there but it was good.

“You hear when the time starts and know you have 40 or 50 seconds but I know it’s plenty of time. The most important thing is to be ready when it’s time to play, because if not it’s going to catch you.”

The experiment has also gone down well on the other side of the Atlantic, with Billy Horschel writing on Twitter: “Loving this shot clock deal on the EuropeanTour.

“Amazing how fast rounds go when players play within the rules. And guys are still playing great golf. Shocking!! ....wish we had something like this on the PGATOUR.”

Collated first round scores from the 2018 Shot Clock Masters, Diamond CC, Atzenbrugg, Vienna, Austria (Britain unless stated, Irish in bold, par 72):

66 Oscar Lengden (Swe)

67 Peter Hanson (Swe), Tapio Pulkkanen (Fin), Miguel Angel Jimenez (Spa)

68 Jeppe Huldahl (Den), Anders Hansen (Den), Connor Syme, Mikko Korhonen (Fin), Justin Walters (Rsa), Bradley Neil

69 Soren Kjeldsen (Den), Mikael Lundberg (Swe), Steve Webster, Sepp Straka (Aut), Oscar Stark (Swe), Ashun Wu (Chn), Tom Lewis, Matthias Schwab (Aut), Jeff Winther (Den), Austin Connelly (Can), Mark Foster, Oliver Farr, Ross McGowan

70 Christofer Blomstrand (Swe), Kalle Samooja (Fin), Daniel Im (USA), Sebastian Heisele (Ger), (a) Kristoffer Reitan (Nor), Nicolas Colsaerts (Bel), David Horsey, Jonathan Thomson, Nick Cullen (Aus), Florian Fritsch (Ger), Jin-ho Choi (Kor), Adam Bland (Aus), Andrea Pavan (Ita), Minkyu Kim (Kor), Bernd Ritthammer (Ger)

71 Matthew Millar (Aus), Grant Forrest, Ashley Chesters, Daan Huizing (Nrl), Raphael Jacquelin (Fra), Felipe Aguilar (Chi), Jason Norris (Aus), Gavin Moynihan (Irl), Phachara Khongwatmai (Th), Kristian Krogh Johannessen (Nor), Laurie Canter, (a) Tom McKibbon (NIrl), Eirik Tage Johansen (Nor), Ryan Evans, Lorenzo Gagli (Ita)

72 Jarand Arnoy (Nor), Charlie Ford, Mark Tullo (Chi), Zander Lombard (Rsa), Gary Stal (Fra), Simon Khan, Lee Slattery, Johan Carlsson (Swe), Joachim B. Hansen (Den), Duncan Stewart, Chris Hanson, Christiaan Bezuidenhout (Rsa), Victor Riu (Fra), Wade Ormsby (Aus), Jack Munro (Aus)

73 Pontus Widegren (Swe), Ben Evans, Lukas Nemecz (Aut), Matthew Nixon, Estanislao Goya (Arg), Richard McEvoy, Scott Fernandez (Spa), Henric Sturehed (Swe), Jose-Filipe Lima (Pt), Chase Koepka (USA), Rak hyun Cho (Kor), Ruaidhri McGee (Irl), Marcus Fraser (Aus)

74 Clemens Prader (Aut), Nico Geyger (Chi), Daniel Brooks, Sebastian Garcia Rodriguez (Spa), Pep Angles (Spa), Carlos Pigem (Spa), Josh Geary (Nzl), Ben Stow, Marcel Schneider (Ger), Bradley Dredge

75 Marcus Armitage, Matt Ford, (a) Maximillan Steinlechner (Aut), Matthew Baldwin, Francesco Laporta (Ita), Kim Koivu (Fin), Petr Dedek (Cze), Richard Green (Aus), Markus Brier (Aut), Steve Surry, Trevor Fisher Jnr (Rsa)

76 Bernard Neumayer (Aut), Oscar Serna (Mex), Gregory Bourdy (Fra), Dimitrios Papadatos (Aus), Nino Bertasio (Ita)

77 Leonhard Astl (Aut), Liam Johnston, Christopher Mivis (Bel), Ajeetesh Sandhu (Ind)

78 Johannes Steiner (Aut), Pedro Oriol (Spa), Petr Gal (Cze)

79 Shiv Kapur (Ind), Paul Shields, Johan Edfors (Swe)

80 Berni Reiter (Aut)

81 Rene Gruber (Aut)

82 Jeev Milkha Singh (Ind)

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