McKibbin up and running again with fine Durban opener

Adam McKendry

Tom McKibbin (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

Adam McKendry

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Holywood teen Tom McKibbin continued his fine form in South Africa as he opened the Jonsson Workwear Open in Durban with a five-under 65 to lead the Irish challenge.

The 19-year-old came close to winning his first Challenge Tour event at last week’s Bain’s Whisky Cape Town Open, taking the lead into the final two rounds but finishing third, however he has put himself at the right end of the leaderboard again after the first round in Durban.

McKibbin combined six birdies with just one dropped shot at Mount Edgecombe Country Club – the second of the two courses in rotation this week – which has him in a share of eighth, four shots back of South Africa’s JC Ritchie, who had a day to remember at Mount Edgecombe.

Not only did the 28-year-old set a new course record with a nine-under 61, he also had a hole-in-one on his second hole of the day, which has him two shots clear of fellow countryman Rupert Kaminski and in elite form having been the one to beat McKibbin to the title in Cape Town last week.

But McKibbin will be pleased with his day’s work, the teen – who only turned pro last April – picking up birdies at the 10th, 16th and 17th before the turn, and he added back-to-back shots at the first and second to kick off his back nine.

Although he would drop his only shot of the day at the seventh, he rolled in a nice birdie putt on the par-three ninth to close out his round in perfect fashion and have him in a positive mind-frame going into Friday.

Second-placed Kaminski was bogey-free at Mount Edgecombe to shoot a seven-birdie 63, with MJ Viljoen and Christopher Mivis – runner-up in Cape Town last week – the best scorers on the main course, Durban Country Club, as they shot six-under 66s that has them in a share of third.

Blake Windred, Trevor Fisher Jr and Jbe Kruger also signed for six-under-par rounds at Mount Edgecombe to have them alongside Viljoen and Mivis, with McKibbin tied with ten others at five-under.

Further down the leaderboard, the remaining six Irish players are all battling just to make the cut after a tough day in South Africa, with scoring extremely bunched around the midway point of the leaderboard.

Waterford’s Robin Dawson and Kinsale’s John Murphy are the next best placed after one-under 71s at Durban CC, but that is only good enough to have them in a share of 69th after the opening round.

Despite being just one shot further back, Gavin Moynihan and Niall Kearney are both in a share of 111th after opening with level-par rounds.

Donabate man Moynihan only had six pars in a roller coaster level-par 70 at Mount Edgecombe, while Royal Dublin ace Kearney mixed two birdies with two bogeys in a level-par 72 at Durban CC.

Meanwhile, Greystones’ Paul Dunne had a horror back nine at Durban CC as he looked to have put himself in an excellent position with three birdies and an eagle in his opening 11 holes, but he collapsed on his way back to the clubhouse, recording four birdies and a triple-bogey to sign for a one-over 73.

Former East of Ireland champion Richard O’Donovan had a tough day at Mount Edgecombe, just one birdie coming alongside seven bogeys and a triple in a nine-over 79, while Ardglass man Cormac Sharvin retired after 12 holes at Mount Edgecombe after making an eagle at his third hole but then following it with three bogeys.

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