For the second week in succession, Tom McKibbin will be the sole Irishman teeing it up as the DP World Tour moves from Southern Cape inland to Johannesburg for the Jonsson Workwear Open at The Club at Steyn City.
Despite stretching to over 7,700 yards off the back tees, and with a par of 72, The Club is not quite as lengthy as it appears due to the elevated setting meaning that the ball will travel roughly seven percent further through the air than it would at sea level.
McKibbin arrives off the back of solid performances at the Magical Kenya Open and the SDC Championship at St. Francis’ Links, posting finished of T23 and T18 respectively, the latter coming after a rough opening round of 76 as part of an afternoon wave that came close to being blown off the course at times.
Currently lying 67th in the Race to Dubai rankings, the DP World Tour rookie is roughly halfway to securing his playing privileges for next season, though will have designs on going a step further and cracking the all-important top 60 and giving himself a chance at securing one of the 15 PGA Tour cards on offer to the highest Race to Dubai finishers not already exempt.
His T12 finish at the Singapore Classic last month was his highest finish in a DP World Tour event to date, but could so easily have been his first win had a disappointing closing nine holes not derailed his chances of victory, but he’s been trending well and neither Muthaiga Golf Club in Nairobi nor Eastern Cape’s St. Francis’ Links would be golf courses that give McKibbin the best opportunity to display his talents.
The Club at Steyn City is different. Power is a big advantage here, and McKibbin is in the upper bracket when it comes to driving distance. Plus, his results show that South Africa is a very friendly destination to him. All four of his DP World Tour starts in the nation have yielded top-20 finishes, also coming very close to victory twice on the Challenge Tour around the same time last year. There’s a good chance that his maiden tour victory will happen in South Africa, and it will be no major surprise if it were to come this week.
Of course, there are many worthy contenders who stand in his way, including Finnish duo Sami Välimäki and Kalle Samooja, Spanish trio of Rafa Cabrera Bello, Adri Arnaus and Adrian Otaegui, and local challengers Brandon Stone and the big-hitting Wilco Nienaber, all of whom will fancy their chances of taking home the first-place cheque for $225,000.
McKibbin will be hoping to make a fast start on freshly rolled greens when he gets his first round underway at 07:50 local time (05:50 Irish time) alongside an South Africans Merrick Bremner and Jacques Kruyswijk.
Leave a comment