Holywood teenager Tom McKibbin holds a three-shot lead after the first day of the Korn Ferry Tour first stage qualifier in Maricopa, Arizona after a superb 10-under 62.
The 18-year-old had nine birdies and an eagle in a sensational opening round at Ak-Chin Southern Dunes Golf Club as he chases a top-20 spot which would see him advance to next month’s second stage.
Just an 18 year old shooting a 62 at Q school. That’s all. pic.twitter.com/0OHq5kfl5x
— Monday Q Info (@acaseofthegolf1) September 21, 2021
“I knew I would have to go low here this week as it looks to be that way at Korn Ferry Q school. The scores always look to be very low,” he said.
“I got off to a great start with a birdie putt on my first hole – the 10th – and that settled me into the round early. I was able to take advantage of all the par 5’s with an eagle and three birdies, and hit some really good shots in close on a few of the par 4’s.
“My game has been great all year tee to green but the putter has been stone cold. I’ve burnt so many edges and lipped out so many putts but today they all dropped which was great to see and a big boost to my confidence. Hopefully I can keep it going all the way through the week.”
McKibbin has already given himself a significant buffer, with 20th currently sitting at three-under, with his nearest challengers being Arizona natives Brendon Jelley and George Markham at seven-under.
Meanwhile, Dublin’s David Carey is in a tie for 11th at one of the other first stage qualifiers in Winter Garden, Florida after a four-under 67, while Waterford’s Gary Hurley is 25th after a 69 at the same venue.
Carey had four birdies and an eagle in his 67, while Hurley mixed four birdies with two bogeys to sit one shot off the three-under cut mark as it stands, with the top-21 and ties at the Panther Lake course at Orange County National qualifying for the second stage.
McKibbin had a frustrating first season as professional, leaving the amateur ranks behind in April and finishing 26th at the ISPS HANDA World Invitational but failing to make another cut in four other starts, while his best Challenge Tour finish was 12th at the Irish Challenge, while both Carey and Hurley picked up multiple top-10 finishes on the Alps Tour this year.
The second stage takes place across five courses next month, with the qualifiers from those events progressing to the Final Stage in Savannah, Georgia in November where Tour rights will be handed out.
- Link to scoring HERE