McKibbin and Murphy inside top-20 at rain delayed Joburg Open

Ronan MacNamara

Tom McKibbin (Photo by Luke Walker/Getty Images)

Tom McKibbin and John Murphy started as they mean to go on as they opened their rookie seasons on the DP World Tour on a positive note at the weather delayed Joburg Open. 

Both players are on three-under-par, five shots adrift of Dan Bradbury, although Murphy will return on Friday morning to complete the final seven holes of his opening round after play was suspended for thunderstorms. 

The pair are inside the top-20 while McKibbin managed to get in the clubhouse before the inclement weather with a 68. 

The 19-year-old earned his DP World Tour playing rights via the Challenge Tour Rankings earlier this month and he has continued that momentum. 

McKibbin roared out of the traps with three birdies in five holes before dropping one on the seventh.  

Back-to-back birdies either side of the turn moved him to four-under before he let two slip with a six on the par-4 12th. 

Birdies on 13 and 17 recovered the damage although he did finish with a dropped shot on the last to cap off a rollercoaster back nine of 35. 

Kinsale’s Murphy had just birdied the par-4 2nd hole (his 11th) to move alongside McKibbin before the hooter sounded. 

The 24-year-old also started his rookie year well with three birdies in five holes and a bogey on 13. 

The South African swing provides a good opportunity for both players to get off to solid starts having taken in seven events on the Challenge Tour’s venture around the country earlier this year – where McKibbin started the campaign with two top-7 finishes. 

England’s Bradbury made the most of his invite this week with an eight-under-par 63 to lead by one from Germany’s Nick Bachem. 

“It was pretty good to be fair,” said the Yorkshireman who carded two eagles. “I can’t really complain with a 63 can I? 

“I got a little bit of momentum going early on the back nine, then the (first) thunderstorm obviously stopped that. 

“Both (eagles were) just great drives – had nine iron into them both, front flags, just hit it nice and high and it’ll stop. Then obviously you’ve got to roll the putt in. 

“This is my first time really playing at altitude. Keegan, the local caddie, he’s been great getting me used to all that but yeah, the ball’s going miles. Both those par fives, I had I think 180 and 188 (yards) in – it just doesn’t make sense.” 

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