McKibbin set for major championship debut at US Open

Ronan MacNamara

Tom McKibbin (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

Ronan MacNamara

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Tom McKibbin will make his major championship debut at next month’s US Open after he came through final qualifying at Walton Heath.

McKibbin birdied five of his last seven holes to burst into the top-9 on eight-under-par to qualify on the mark and he will add to the Irish contingent in Pinehurst.

The Holywood star was well placed after an opening 69 and he continued his charge with a couple of birdies on 3 and 6 to start his second round but his hopes looked to be dangling by a thread when he double bogeyed the par-4 9th but three birdies in a row from the 12th reignited his challenge.

Needing a big finish, the 21-year-old birdied two of his last three holes to secure his major debut in what is another step in the right direction for the youngster.

Meanwhile, Matteo Manassero will make his first Major Championship appearance since 2016

The Italian was one of nine players to secure their spots in the field for the third men’s Major of the year, being held at Pinehurst No. 2 from June 13-16.

Robert Rock, who stepped away from playing on the DP World Tour in 2022, rolled back the years to also qualify as the 36-hole qualifier at the Surrey produced some fantastic storylines.

English pair Richard Mansell and Brandon Robinson-Thompson along with Scotland’s Grant Forrest finished in a tie at the top of the leaderboard, after all three posted totals of ten under over their two rounds.

Sam Bairstow of England will make his Major debut as a professional after finishing at nine under alongside countryman Rock.

Australia’s Jason Scrivener and the experienced Edoardo Molinari finished alongside countryman Manassero at eight under to secure their spot.

Manassero appeared unlikely to qualify when he opened the day with a one-under 71 over the Old Course, but six birdies in his closing eight holes saw him force his way into the top nine.

The 31-year-old, who ended a near 11-year wait for his fifth DP World Tour title at the Jonsson Workwear Open in March, last played in a Major at The Open Championship eight years ago.

Rock, a two-time DP World Tour winner, carded a three-under 69 over the tougher Old Course in the morning, before firing a flawless 66 over the New Course to seal an unlikely return to the Major stage.

Mansell will compete at the U.S. Open for the second time in the last three years after he made a combined 14 birdies over his two rounds, while Brandon Robinson-Thompson made light of the challenge of playing 36 holes in one day as he made just one bogey.

Forrest enjoyed a run of five birdies and an eagle in a seven-hole stretch during his opening round over the Old Course, before a 68 over the more scoreable New Course saw him finish a tie for first place.

After opening with a 68, Challenge Tour graduate Bairstow was another to go bogey-free over the New Course in his second round as a 67 saw him finish one shot back of the leading trio.

Molinari, Team Europe’s Ryder Cup Vice Captain, recovered from a double bogey on his penultimate hole of the day to birdie the 18th on the New Course to seal his spot and just a second Major start since 2015.

After the disappointment of missing out by one shot at last year’s Final Qualifier, McKibbin posted scores of 69 and 67 to secure his berth at Pinehurst, scene of where he won the World Kids Championship aged 12.

For Scrivener, the 35-year-old can look forward to his second start at a U.S. Open, having missed the cut back in 2018 after a pair of 68s proved good enough.

South Africa’s Casey Jarvis and Italy’s Andrea Pavan emerged from a five-man play-off to determine the two alternate spots.

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