Solid start for McKibbin as Shinkwin blitzes the field

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Tom McKibbin (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

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Tom McKibbin carded an eagle on his way to an opening round of 69 at the Ras Al Khaimah Championship and he trails Callum Shinkwin by seven shots.

Playing the course from back to front started well with birdies on 13 and 14 before dropping a shot at the par-5 18th, a hole that saw so much drama on the final day last year.

The 21-year-old from Holywood added a birdie at the par-5 3rd before rolling in a 16-footer for an eagle on the par-5 8th. His day finished on a sour note with a dropped shot on the last but it leaves him in a comfortable share of 31st place.

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Padraig Harrington bounced back from a double bogey at the ninth to post a one-under 71 and he trails Shinkwin by nine.

Shinkwin made a remarkable eight birdies in a row as he carded a brilliant 62 to take a two-shot lead.

The Englishman was already two under when he started his run on the 16th, recording ten birdies in 11 holes to send talk of a 59 rippling around Al Hamra Golf Club.

A bogey on the seventh ended those hopes but he picked the shot straight back up on the next and his ten under par total left him two ahead of countryman Richard Mansell and South African Brandon Stone.

Mansell also got to ten under before making a double-bogey on the eighth, while Stone – back on the DP World Tour after a season on the European Challenge Tour – picked up six shots in his last seven holes in a 64.

Portuguese Ricardo Gouveia, Frenchman Frederic Lacroix and German Freddy Schott were then at seven under.

Shinkwin’s birdie run was just one short of James Nitties’ DP World Tour record as he matched his lowest score on Tour from the 2016 Shenzhen International.

The 30-year-old arrived in Ras Al Khaimah fresh off a tie for 11th at the Hero Dubai Desert Classic and now has a third DP World Tour title firmly in his sights.

“I was a bit gutted about the seventh,” he said. “It’s not easy to get a 59 on a par 72 course but I just kept going, making birdie after birdie and didn’t really think about 59.

“I wanted to beat (his previous 62) by one because when you have a record you always want to keep beating those records but eight years down the line I’ve shot a 62 again so I’m happy.

“I shot 63 qualifying for Abu Dhabi (in 2019) when I lost my card and I followed up with a 65… so it can be done. The next day is another day and one shot at a time.”

Starting on the tenth, Shinkwin left himself a tap-in on the 13th and made the most of the par-five 14th before hitting his electrifying spell.

He holed from off the green at the 16th and 17th before getting up and down from the sand on the par-five next to turn in 31.

An approach to inside six feet was followed by a long putt on the second and he then made a two-putt gain on the par-five third and holed a 25-footer on the fourth.

Excitement was building as he got up and down on the driveable par-four fifth but he bogeyed the par-three seventh after missing the green, regaining the shot with two putts on the par-five next.

Mansell also started on the tenth and he turned in 29, putting irons inside ten feet on the tenth, 11th and 13th before leaving himself just three feet on the 14th and holing a bunker shot on the 18th for a pair of eagles.

A two-putt gain on the third was followed by birdies on the fifth and seventh but he found trouble off the tee and with his drop on the eighth to give two back.

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