Northern Irish teenager Tom McKibbin makes leap to pro ranks

Holywood prospect will make debut at the Tenerife Open on European Tour this week

Tom McKibbin Northern Ireland in action during day four of The Amateur Championship at Royal Birkdale last year. Photo: Richard Heathcote/R&A/R&A via Getty Images

Tom McKibbin Northern Ireland in action during day four of The Amateur Championship at Royal Birkdale last year. Photo: Richard Heathcote/R&A/R&A via Getty Images

 

Northern Irish teenager and highly-rated prospect Tom McKibbin has announced he is turning professional at the age of 18 and will make his debut at this week’s Tenerife Open on the European Tour.

The Belfast native has been tipped as a hot prospect since a very young age and comes from Holywood Golf Club - the same club as Rory McIlroy who has formed a close bond with the teenager over the years and acts as a mentor for him.

Two years ago McKibbin won the prestigious Junior Invitational title at Sage Valley Golf Club in the United States to add to an impressive trophy cabinet which also includes a Junior Honda Classic, a Doral Publix Jr Classic - a title which McIlroy himself also won in his younger years – and a World Junior Championship which McKibbin captured at Pinehurst in 2015 aged just 12.

McKibbin has also represented Ireland at Home Internationals throughout his junior years and, now on the verge of finishing school, has opted to go straight into the pro ranks rather than down the US college scholarship route.

The early switch to professional is a decision McIlroy himself also made when he made his debut at the British Masters in 2007, also aged 18.

“I’m ecstatic to make my professional debut next week,” said McKibbin.

“Thank you to everyone who has supported me throughout my amateur career and the European Tour for this opportunity.”

The 18-year-old - who has signed with management company JMC Sport - also competed in the Irish Open at Galgorm Castle last year and will switch between the European Tour and the Challenge Tour for the remainder of 2021 as he tries to earn status.

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