Newtownabbey’s Tom McKibbin laid down an impressive marker of 64 on day one of the 9th Junior Invitational at Sage Valley Golf Club.
In addition to securing the lead with an impressive 8-under tally in the first round, McKibbin was honoured by the tournament for his outstanding character and charitable work during Tuesday night’s opening ceremony. And to top it off, he joined home hero, Rory McIlroy at a private clinic on Wednesday evening.
McKibbin carded seven birdies and one eagle in his second appearance at the Junior Invitational for a two-shot lead after the first day of play in the prestigious junior golf event.
“I started off pretty quick,” said McKibbin. “I birdied the first and the fourth, but I dropped one at the sixth. Birdied at the seventh and eagled at the eighth. I stayed strong, hit it close and took chances when I could.”
The Junior Invitational is a three-day event featuring the top junior boys in the world. During the event, the players experience not only top-level tournament play but also the opportunity to meet and learn from some of the greats in the game like McIlroy.
“It’s unbelievable just to be here and participate in this event,” added McKibbin. “To play well at this course feels really special.”
Earlier in the week, McKibbin was chosen among his 53 peers to receive the 2019 Paul S. Simon Character Award for his work with the Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice (NIHC). Named after the Junior Invitational’s executive committee chair emeritus, the award honours a young man who has achieved great things both on and off the golf course.
McKibbin is in his third year of serving as an Official Ambassador to the NICH, which provides care for over 300 infants, children and young people with life-limiting and life-threatening illnesses at no cost to families.
“He was actually really shocked,” said Tom’s mother, Sara McKibbin, of her son receiving the award. “He didn’t know anyone here would know about the work he does. He’s raised quite a lot for them.”
Golf fans can follow the competition at JuniorInvitational.com and on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. For locals, there is no charge to attend, and badges can be picked up daily throughout the tournament at the Sage Valley Golf Club entrance.
Full Scoring HERE – https://juniorinvitational.com/leaderboard/