Consistency the key for McKibbin as he eyes up big finish to season on Challenge Tour

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Consistency the key for McKibbin as he eyes up big finish to season on Challenge Tour

Tom McKibbin (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

Riding a wave of momentum into this week’s ISPS HANDA World Invitational, Tom McKibbin looks like he’s going to be one to watch at Galgorm Castle and Massereene.

The 19-year-old is a man in form after four consecutive top-15 finishes on the Challenge Tour, which include a fifth in Italy and then second place at the Irish Challenge at The K Club, which secured him an Irish Open invite next year.

Still only in his first full season as a professional after a sensational amateur career, McKibbin looks to be finding his stride in the full-time ranks and he might have timed his run perfectly to potentially put together a challenge on home turf.

Armed with a game that has seen him soar into the top-20 of the Challenge Tour Order of Merit, up to 16th, and playing at his home event – the Holywood man is a Galgorm touring pro – could be a winning combination.

“I’ve been playing very consistently. Nothing’s been spectacular or stood out, everything’s just been very good and that’s helped the consistency – nothing’s been wildly off,” says McKibbin, who finished 26th at the World Invitational last year.

“The goal is to keep it consistent but it’s hard when everything’s the same. You’re trying to keep everything going at the same rate.

“It’s probably the most consistent I’ve played. I’ve played better before but the result hasn’t been as good. I’m getting better at getting the best out of my rounds and getting the most possible. Had a few good final rounds which have helped as well.

“It’s probably not the best I’ve played but it’s the best my game has been consistently.”

It helps this week that the World Invitational offers points in the Road to Mallorca as well, which aided McKibbin’s decision to play in Northern Ireland as opposed to Denmark as he looks to potentially wrap up a DP World Tour card for next year.

The way the format works means that where he finishes will earn him the same number of points as if he had finished there in Denmark, which allows him to focus on his game wholeheartedly this week instead of worrying he might be prioritising short-term success over long-term joy.

“The way this works with the dual points, it makes it a lot easier. You don’t feel like you lose any ground if you play well,” he adds.

“The goal all year has been to finish in the top-20 on the Challenge Tour but I’m not going to put any additional pressure on myself. I’m in a much better position than I was last year, but I’m not putting any extra pressure on myself, I know that if I play well then my future will take care of itself.”

He’s also putting no pressure on himself in the short-term either. While obviously he would desperately love to pick up a first professional win in front of his home fans at his home event, McKibbin knows that the process is still important.

It’s what got him this far already, trusting that what he is doing is working, and, given his recent run of results, there doesn’t look to be any reason to suggest that he should be changing it.

“You come and you want to win every week but it’s tough to do that, and if you start getting frustrated you’re not winning then you put a lot of pressure on yourself,” he explains of his mindset.

“Good weeks are when I go and play well, trust myself and commit to shots. You can have a good week and come first, and you can have a great week and finish 20th.

“I don’t really go into the feeling of I want to win every week because it puts too much pressure on me. I want to win every week, but if I start getting annoyed I’m not winning every week then it’s not good for the game.”

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