Fellow Holywood golfer Tom McKibbin upstaged his more illustrious home club golfing starlet Rory McIlroy in driving to victory at the Porsche European Open in Hamburg.
McKibbin, 20, broke free of six golfers tied for the overnight lead to capture a maiden Tour title in just 26 DP World events, 20 fewer tournaments than McIlroy, and with McIlroy aged 19 years and some eight months when he captured the 2009 Dubai Desert Classic title in his 46th DP World Tour event
McKibbin posted a closing 70 to win by two shots at nine-under-par and in the process become only the second Irishman after Darren Clarke in 2001 to win the event in this year’s 45th anniversary of the tournament.
McKibbin turned professional in April 2021 at the age of 18 and made his pro debut at the Tenerife Open but missed the weekend rounds and now McKibbin has earned a two-year DP World Tour exemption till the end of the 2025 season.
“It was pretty amazing and an amazing day”, he said. “I was in a good group playing alongside Jordan (Smith) and David (Law), it that was pretty nice.
“It was just nice to go out there and put the win together. The win hasn’t sunk it just yet but, I guess, that will come tomorrow but then to have my dad here, and he comes out most weeks, was pretty special and pretty amazing”.
“I always felt that I was good enough to win and to prove it today was pretty special. I guess also I’ve learned a lot from failures and missing cuts by a shot, and missing things ever so slightly so that I could learn from all those and put them into play today was really nice”.
McKibbin set-up his maiden Tour success, breaking clear of the overnight log-jam atop of the board, with birdies at the fourth, sixth and ninth holes. Indeed, he birdied the fourth and sixth for a third day running while his birdie at nine was also a third time in four days he’d birdied that hole.
However, it was a little shaky for McKibbin when he bogeyed the 11th and 13th holes thus allowing the German duo of Max Kieffer and Marcel Siem to tie him at seven-under before the young Irishman birdied the par-5 15th to get back to eight-under.
McKibbin was in a little trouble down the final hole, the par-5 18th and the sixth par-5 on the course, when he sent his drive right into the first cut but then pulled off one of the shots of the tournament first avoiding the branches of a tree just in front of him and then with his ball clearing the water guarding the green with his 203-yard second shot finding the heart of the green and comfortably two-putting from just seven feet for a birdie ‘4’ for his two-shot triumph.
“That second shot is probably one of the best of my career given the pressure I was under”, he said. “It was kind of tricky and it wasn’t as I was trying to hit it right edge of the green, and then it turned over.
“It must have looked really good on camera but then it was an easier shot than laying-up and then having to hit a third over the water”.
WHAT A SHOT! 🤯
— DP World Tour (@DPWorldTour) June 4, 2023
Kieffer (70) and Siem (71), and much to the disappointment of a big German crowd, shared second place at seven-under.
TOM MCKIBBIN – WITH HIS 2023 PORSCHE EUROPEAN OPEN SUCCESS
• A maiden DP World Tour win in just his 26th appearance (Rory McIlroy took 46 events to win maiden title at the 2009 Dubai Desert Classic)
• Becomes the second Northern Irish-born winner at the Porsche European Open, joining Darren Clarke (2001).
• McKibbin’s first appearance at the Porsche European Open
• His prior best finish earlier season was T12 at the Singapore Classic
• Graduated from the European Challenge Tour by finishing tenth on the 2022 Road to Mallorca Rankings
• Grew up playing golf at Holywood Golf Club, the same club as Rory McIlroy. Coincidentally, McIlroy also shares the third round lead on six under par at the Memorial Tournament presented by Workday on the PGA TOUR
• McKibbin jumps 70 places to 22nd on the Race to Dubai Rankings in partnership with Rolex.
• Likely to move a career-high of 159th on the Official World Golf Ranking, from 335th. His previous highest ranking was 285th (January 2023)
• Is the second Northern Irish winner on the 2023 Race to Dubai, joining Rory McIlroy (Hero Dubai Desert Classic)
• And is 63rd win by a player from Northern Ireland to taste success on the DP World Tour