GOLF: Gary Player praises Tom McKibbin on World title success

Tom McKibbin
Tom McKibbin
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Move over G-Mac, Northern Ireland has got a new golf champion in T-Mac!

Newtownabbey’s Tom McKibbin was proud as punch after he won the Under-12 World Junior Championships by a single shot at Pinehurst, North Carolina at the weekend.

The Belfast Royal Academy pupil carded rounds of 69, 75 and 73 win the title and after getting his hands on a trophy he tweeted: ‘I did it! I’m the world champion!’

And his success has won him praise from US Open champion Graeme McDowell and legend of the sport, Gary Player.

The South African, winner of nine Major championships, tweeted: “Congrats @tommckibbin8 on your @USKidsGolfFDN World Championship victory. The harder you practice the luckier you get.”

His school, BRA, also tweeted: “Congratulations to our own @tommckibbin8 on becoming U12 @USKidsGolfFDN World Golf Champion.”

At last month’s Future Masters tournament in Alabama, McKibbin, who is coached by Johnny Foster, carded a blistering opening round of five-under 65 to storm into the lead, but had to settle for eighth place overall.

After the event he said he would learn from the experience and, boy, has he done just that!

McKibbin, who was named Newtownabbey Borough Council’s Junior Sportsperson of the Year in 2014, has already rubbed shoulders with Major champions McDowell and Rory McIlroy.

McDowell invited him between the ropes at the Irish Open at Royal County Down earlier this year to soak up what it’s like for a pro golfer to compete at a tour event.