McKibbin prefers to distance himself from comparisons with McIlroy

Bernie McGuire

Tom McKibbin during the Rolex Challenge Tour Grand Final (Picture: Niall O'Shea)

It will be difficult given they’re from the same area and both seemed destined for golfing superstardom from a young age, but teen golfing sensation Tom McKibbin would prefer to distance himself from comparisons with fellow Holywood golfer Rory McIlroy.

The 19-year-old McKibbin will join the World No. 1 on the 2023 DP World Tour after securing full membership in finishing in 10th place among the leading 20 in last Sunday’s concluding Challenge Tour Rolex Road to Mallorca money-list standings.

And while there was always going to be the comparison with McKibbin now following in the footsteps of his boyhood idol McIlroy, McKibbin is smart enough not to let such talk concern him even though he is the youngest since McIlroy to earn his DP World Tour card in just three events at the end of 2007.


“I don’t bother with comparisons any more. I try and stay out of it, don’t listen to any of that,” said McKibbin in an unauthored story by the BBC.

“Being compared to Rory is obviously a huge honour. I’ve heard it for so long, seven or eight years now, that it doesn’t even faze me anymore. I’m used to it.

“Rory has been phenomenal. I’ve got to play a lot of golf with him and pick his brain. That has been a huge help.”

As he alluded to, this is a line McKibbin has had to walk for a while and he commented in April last year, soon after turning pro following being overlooked for the GB&I Walker Cup side:

“It’s probably a massive compliment being compared to Rory McIlroy, I’m obviously doing something right.

“I’d love to be winning majors and become world number one. That would be an awesome achievement. Those would be some long-term ambitions, to be the best.”

With a fortnight off from competition now, McKibbin seems almost certain to be heading south of the equator later this month for three events in South Africa and one in Mauritius.

Then if all goes well, McKibbin will first join McIlroy in a DP World Tour event at the January 26th commencing Dubai Desert Classic.

“I’ve been looking forward to this moment for a while, to have achieved it is pretty special,” McKibbin added.

“I’ll sit down in the next few days and have a look at next season’s calendar but I’ll probably start in South Africa in a few weeks.

“The Challenge Tour is a good stepping stone to feeling comfortable playing tournaments every week, maybe four or five events in a row, so I’ll take that experience into next year.

“I’ve done a lot in a short space of time but this is up there with the best. My game has got better every year since I was a kid going up the levels.”

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