Moving day 69 sees McKibbin climb as Larrazabal hits the front at KLM Open

Mark McGowan

Tom McKibbin (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

Tom McKibbin carded five birdies on his way to a Saturday 69 at the KLM Open at Holland’s Bernardus Golf Club as Pablo Larrazábal moved to the head of affairs with a bogey-free five under round of 67.

Starting the day on -1 after rounds of 72 and 71 in rounds one and two respectively, the Holywood tour rookie made a fast start thanks to birdies at two and three, with another at the par-5 7th seeing him cover the front nine in a three-under 33.

A birdie at 12 was sandwiched by bogeys at the 11th and 13th as his short game let him down at 11 and he three-putted from distance at 13. Four pars followed, but he’d hole a six-footer for birdie at the par-5 closer after a neat up-and-down from short of the green to sign for a three-under 69 that sees him trail Larrazábal by six going into the final round.


The Spaniard started the day five strokes behind but added five birdies to his overnight total to reach ten under par, one clear of countryman Adrian Otaegui and Denmark’s Rasmus Højgaard who share second place on nine under.

The 40-year-old was impressive as he dealt with  fairways getting firmer as the day went on, but it was at the last where arguably his standout moment arrived. With a blemish-free card in his grasp, he was left with a tricky 15-footer for par which he duly holed, much to the delight of the galleries.

Larrazábal picked up his eighth DP World Tour victory on his last non-Major start at the Korea Championship Presented by Genesis in April, before making the cut at the US PGA Championship last week, and is now eyeing more silverware after rising to the top of the leaderboard.

Three-time DP World Tour winner Adrian Meronk is two shots off the lead in a tie for fourth on eight under par, along with Malaysia’s Gavin Green and 2022 European Challenge Tour graduates Todd Clements, from England, and Kiwi Daniel Hillier.

“My game wasn’t as good today as the first two rounds but I hung in there,” Larrazábal said after the round. “I took the things that Raul [Quiros, Larrazábal’s caddie] told me for the round. We knew that it was going to be a tough one because here in Europe, we are not used to 20,000 people around this golf course so we had to concentrate a little bit more and that’s what we did. We’re very happy.

“Now we are in position. Tomorrow will be tomorrow. It’s going to be 18 holes of golf and we’re going to try our best. If our best is finishing first then we’ll finish first but we have to do a lot of things very well between now and our tee time tomorrow. We’re going to calm down, hit some balls, practice a little bit and we’re going to have to rest very well because my batteries are running down. I’m happy, I’m playing great and I’m enjoying the moment.”


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