McKibbin in the hunt at World Invitational at Galgorm Castle

Jordan Smith leads the men’s event; In women’s event, there’s a three-way tie

England’s Jordan Smith on day one of the ISPS Handa World Invitational at Galgorm Castle. Photograph: Peter Morrison/PA

England’s Jordan Smith on day one of the ISPS Handa World Invitational at Galgorm Castle. Photograph: Peter Morrison/PA

 

Teenager Tom McKibbin made the most of his sponsor’s invite into the ISPS Handa World Invitational tournament - on the European Tour - after an opening round 67, three-under-par on the Massereene course, left him in tied-11th position and leading the home challenge in the unique tournament that also has a separate women’s event running side by side.

England’s Jordan Smith leads the men’s event, after an opening round 62 (eight-under) on the Galgorm course, while South Korean Chella Choi, American Jennifer Kupcho and Scotland’s Gemma Dryburgh each shot 66s (seven-under on the Massereene) to lead the women’s tournament, which is co-sanctioned on the LPGA Tour and the LET.

“It was hammering down when we started and for the first nine, which made it pretty tricky,” said 18-year-old McKibbin of battling the heavy rain fail.” I had to grind a lot and make some good pars, but stayed patient,” he added.

Smith, ranked 241st in the world and whose best finish this season so far has been a tied-third in the Made in Himmerland in Denmark, again showed his liking for the Galgorm Castle layout: “Just everything came together really. I’ve been struggling with my iron play recently but that and my wedge game and my putting were really, really good . . . I’ve felt (my game) has been trending in the right way. It sort of all came together and I’m looking for more of the same.”

The ISPS Handa World Invitational is an innovative event, combining as it does an individual event on the men’s European Tour and a separate women’s strokeplay event.

In the women’s event, Olivia Mehaffey, playing on a sponsor’s invite having turned professional after graduating from Arizona State University, opened with a solid 70.

Leading scores: ISPS Handa World Invitational (Galgorm Castle and Massereene)


Men

-8 - J Smith (Eng)

- 6- M Schmid (Ger), D Drysdale (Scot)

-5 - M Kawamura (Jp)

- 4 - M Baldwin IEng), E Pepperell (Eng), A Canizares (Sp), M Schmitt (Ger), N Elvira (Sp), C Hill (Scot)

Women

-7 - C Choi (SKor), J Kupcho (US), G Dryburgh (Scot)

-6 - E Talley (US)

-5 - MS Keoh (SKor), S Burnham (US), G Hall (Eng), C Hull (Eng)

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