McKibbin braves the elements to stay in the hunt for a successful European Open defence

Mark McGowan

Tom McKibbin (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)

Mark McGowan

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Green Eagle Golf Course in Hamburg measures over 7,800 yards and it played every inch of that in round two of the Porsche European Open as heavy rains pounded the course throughout the morning.

Defending champion Tom McKibbin, well placed after an opening four-under, was among the early starters on the 10th, and couldn’t have gotten off to a much worse start as his opening tee shot sailed left and he reached for a provisional. The first tee shot was found, but after chipping out sideways, he ended up carding a double bogey-six to fall back to -2.

Back-to-back birdies on 14 and 15 got him back to level-par for the day, and he’d par his way to turn.

He’d pick up another two on the front side, rolling in nine-footer on the par-3 second and then getting up-and-down from just short of the green on the par-4 fourth to move to -6. Half-chances came and went on seven and nine, but that’s the way he’d finish. A more than satisfactory performance given the difficult conditions he endured for much of the round.

“I’m looking forward to the weekend because I’m in a good position on the leaderboard,” McKibbin said. “Last year has given me confidence where I played well in the final rounds and hopefully I can do the same again over the next couple of days.

“The course is playing a lot longer and a lot softer than last year. I’m hitting a lot of long-irons into the greens and some of the greens are generating a lot of back spin which is hard to predict.”

Despite growing up in Northern Ireland where wind and rain are par for the course, a few years on Tour where sunshine is commonplace changes your outlook pretty quick.

“The rain and wind we had earlier in the day made it especially tricky,” he said.

“It was a very good day. It was obviously not the start I wanted with a double-bogey but I battled back very nicely with some sensible golf and I got rewarded for that.”

Laurie Canter has hit the front and opened up a three-stroke lead after a seven-under 66 that was the low round of the day. The former LIV player carded five birdies and an eagle to lead home favourite Jannik De Bruyn and Denmark’s Niklas Norgaard who sit joint second at -9, with England’s Garrick Porteous occupying solo fourth at -7.

McKibbin is joined in a five-way tie for fifth by multiple tour winners Pablo Larrazabal and Guido Migliozi, and one-time winner Yuta Katsuragawa from Japan and South Africa’s Jayden Schaper.


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