Tom McKibbin was pleased to end his Alfred Dunhill Championship on a positive note and will take encouragement from the fact he has posted three top-20 finishes in as many DP World Tour starts despite not feeling entirely comfortable with his game.
McKibbin hasn’t quite put four rounds together so far in his rookie season but there have been flashes of brilliance scattered throughout the last three weeks.
The Holywood native threatened to equal the course record in Leopard Creek which was shot by Scott Jamieson and Ockie Strydom (63) but he was happy to settle for a 66 which bumped him into a share of 13th place on ten-under.
“Yeah, I’m very happy, six-under was a nice way to finish off the week. Didn’t really have much good stuff the first three days but today was a lot more like it, played pretty nice. As I said before the course is so good and it was nice to shoot a really nice round to finish.
“I putted a wee bit better, drove it pretty well, everything was just solid, didn’t make too many errors and holed some nice putts which was the key.”
Playing the course from back to front, McKibbin opened with three birdies in four holes before giving a shot back on the par-5 18th.
Back-to-back birdies moved him back inside the top-20 and a second eagle of the week on the par-4 6th brought the course record into the equation. A birdie on the par-3 7th left him needing birdies on 8 and 9 to equal Jamieson’s feat but a bogey on the next put paid to that and halted his blistering run.
It’s been an encouraging start to life on the DP World Tour for the 19-year-old who will turn 20 next Monday and he admits he hasn’t had his best stuff during the South African swing but is pleased to see he can still churn out good results.
“Yeah pretty happy, I’ve been solid. The last two weeks I haven’t played great, the first week I was pretty solid but these last two weeks it’s nice to see a few good finishes for not having my best stuff,’ said McKibbin who will head to Mauritius next week.
“Nothing else going on so may as well play. It’s a bit cold at home so I’ll happily take another week in the sun.”
West Waterford’s Gary Hurley also signed off on a good note with a two-under 70 to move to six-under-par and grab a share of 32nd place.
A much quieter day than McKibbin, Hurley bogeyed 11 and birdied the 13th before back-to-back birdies on 1 and 2 saw him come home in steady fashion.
At the top, South African Strydom recovered from a double bogey on the ninth to hold on for a two-shot win over a host of LIV Golf rebels.
The Springbok responded to that blow at the turn with four birdies in five holes to soar three clear of LIV pair Adrian Otaegui and Laurie Canter on eighteen-under-par and despite the best efforts of Otaegui, the Spaniard ran out of holes.
Branden Grace and Louis Oosthuizen were among the chasing pack on fourteen-under and thirteen-under-par respectively.
Course record setter Jamieson clung onto a top-10 spot on twelve-under despite a two-over 74.