Birdie blitz puts pep in McKibbin’s step as Bradbury secures fairytale win

Ronan MacNamara
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Tom McKibbin (Photo by Luke Walker/Getty Images)

Tom McKibbin is feeling good about his game after a blistering back nine of 30 saw him sign for a 66 to share 18th place at the Joburg Open. 

Five birdies on his way home saw McKibbin shoot up the leaderboard onto nine-under-par and he was happy to finish on a high note after a disappointing 74 on Saturday where he believes fatigue might have got the better of him. 

“It was a very good way to finish. It was nice to shoot 66 and climb up the leaderboard, especially after yesterday so yeah, pretty nice,” said McKibbin. 

“It was a solid enough week, a pretty good first week. Yesterday it was a little tough being up early and I was feeling pretty tired towards the end of the round so that maybe got to me a little bit. I’m very tired after this week, a lot of disruptions and some early mornings but the game feels pretty solid.” 

The Holywood native burst out of the traps with a hat trick of birdies but gave them back with a bogey, double run before the turn. 

After a disappointing par on the par-5 10th – a hole he had birdied in his previous three rounds – the 19-year-old went on a birdie barrage with four successive gains before adding an eighth birdie of the day on 17. 

McKibbin who burst onto the Challenge Tour last year with two top-7s in South Africa, heads to next week’s South African Open in fine fettle and is very comfortable in the altitude. 

“I seem to play well here. I don’t really know what it is but I definitely seem to play well around these courses. I enjoy the golf and the altitude I have a pretty good handle on it. 

“I’m looking forward to next week I’ve heard good things about the course, heard it’s pretty long so I’m looking forward to getting over there and assessing the challenge.” 

McKibbin’s third round 74 put him out of contention but Dan Bradbury held off Finland’s Sami Valimaki to complete a sensational wire-to-wire victory. 

Playing on an invite in just his third start as a professional the Yorkshireman shot a four-under 67 to win by three on –21. 

The 23-year-old now has secured his playing privileges and can look forward to a place at the Open Championship in Royal Liverpool. 

“It won’t sink in for a few days, I don’t think. 

“It’s just a lot of pressure taken off your back – that’s nice – but it hasn’t sunk in yet and I don’t think it will for a while. 

“I was a bit worried there on the 15th when Välimäki rolled that monster in but it was kind of the same thing all week, just keep playing my own game and I knew I was playing good enough. 

“It turned out that way in the end,” added Bradbury who had his mother in the galleries. 

“It made it a little bit more special.” 

Scoring HERE

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