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Saturday, June 12, 2021

McKibbin pleased with opening 69 despite final hole double

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Holywood teenager Tom McKibbin was rightly focussed on the positives despite a sour-tasting final hole double-bogey on day one of the Canary Islands Championship in Tenerife.

Making his second professional start on invite having missed the cut last week at the same course after returning a two-under 36-hole total, the 18-year old returned a two-under par 69 to fire himself well on his way to a first career pay cheque in Spain.

“My game was pretty good today and I played well, and I was just a bit unfortunate at the last in hitting my tee shot short right and behind a tree where I had to take an unplayable,” he reflected.

“Aside from that, the prior 17 holes were perfect and I can’t really complain. So, the game overall was better today than last week.”

Beginning from the 10th tee, McKibbin made a confident start in ideal scoring conditions on Thursday, recovering from an opening bogey with two straight birdies and an eagle before adding another birdie at the 18th to make the turn in four-under.

“The 10th is playing really hard so I accepted bogey there but then birdied 11 and 12, and eagled 13 – lucky to hole that putt as it was going off the green if it didn’t go in,” he smiled.

“So, after the bogey it was nice to get on a bit of a run. The eagle was a perfect drive, 6-iron onto the green some 30-feet from the flag and then just rolled it in. ‘Three perfect shots’.”

Having played the same venue last week, and experienced first-hand the ruthlessness of the pro ranks, McKibbin is feeling much-better prepared to mount a challenge this time around.

“I just felt more comfortable and relaxed today compared to last week,” he said. “I also did a lot of hard work over the weekend and it was nice to see my game better and start out with a good score.”

Paul Dunne was the best of the Irish on day one. The Greystones man fired his lowest round in over two years with a six-under par 65 to trail Francesco Laporta by three strokes. Royal Dublin’s Niall Kearney continued his fine form with a three-under 68. Ardglass professional Cormac Sharvin was in the clubhouse alongside McKibbin at two-under while Clandeboye’s Jonathan Caldwell completed the Irish scoring with six birdies in a one-under 70.

 

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