HomeGolfIrish golf prodigy Tom McKibbin ready for tough test as he defends...

Irish golf prodigy Tom McKibbin ready for tough test as he defends Open crown


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TOM MCKIBBIN hopes a defense of his European Open crown will provide perfect preparation ahead of the US Open in June.

The Antrim man believes the event will provide the perfect “mental battle” as he prepares to make his major championship debut.


Tom McKibbin plays a shot during a practise round in Hamburg this weekCredit: Getty
A 20-year-old McKibbin poses with the 2023 European Open trophy


A 20-year-old McKibbin poses with the 2023 European Open trophyCredit: Getty

McKibbin was one of nine players to come through the recent Walton Abbey qualifying event for next month’s US Open.

The major will take place at the Pinehurst Country Club between June 13th and 16th.

McKibbin said: “Pinehurst is obviously a very difficult golf course so really looking forward to it.”

The 21-year-old will travel to North Carolina following a return to Green Eagle Golf Courses in Hamburg for the Porsche European Open.

It was there where McKibbin won his first and only European tour title to date, ending with an impressive -9 score after four rounds.

World number 84 Keita Nakajima will be the highest ranked player in Germany this year, with Ramus Hojgaard (92nd) and Jordan Smith (98th) the only other members of the top 100 competing in Hamburg.

McKibbin is currently ranked 147th.

McKibbin continued: “This week could actually be a good test for it because here is very, very hard.

“I sort of forgot how hard the course is. It’s a very long golf course, very challenging off the tee, so long and straight is probably a good combo.

“It was a lot warmer last year and the ball sort of got a bit of run on the fairways.

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“So, it’s playing a lot longer this year so I think driving will be very, very big again.

“I am very excited just to get over there [to America] to play and to see where my game is at.

So this week should sort of get me into that mental state of battling it out.”


Tom honed his craft playing at Holywood Golf Club, the same home club as Rory McIlroy.

McKibbin represented Ireland at the 2018 and 2019 European Boys’ Team Championship and played for Great Britain and Ireland in the Jacques Léglise Trophy the same years.

He turned professional in 2021 and played on the European Challenge Tour the following year.


“I always enjoy coming (to Hamburg),” Hojgaard said.

“I haven’t done very well in the past, but hopefully I can turn that around this week.

“It’s a course where you can make birdies out there, but at the same time it’s easy to play 10, 12, 13 holes without seeing a birdie out there.

“It can be a tricky golf course. The winning score is never that low.

“There’s typically always a low first round score and you end up thinking the score is going to be 15 or 20 under, but it I don’t think we’ve seen that in the last few years.

So I think patience is going to be one of the keys this week.”

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