GOLF: Tom aims for summer success in USA

Tom McKibbin
Tom McKibbin

After a top-10 finish at the US Kids European Championships, Newtownabbey golf talent Tom McKibbin is looking forward to a challenging summer of tournments in America.

The 11-year-old Belfast Royal Academy pupil, who is targeting a four handicap by his next birthday, said he was delighted to finish seventh at Gullane, which is set to host the Scottish Open next month.

“I’m really pleased with my result at the Europeans,” he told the Times. “I went to Scotland with a top 10 in my head. Seventh is my best finish ever in that tournament, so I’m very happy. I played good. I left some shots out there but the course was brilliant.

“I was talking to Graeme McDowell at the Irish Open and he wanted to know if I had any tips for him!”

Tom, who currently plays off seven, is now aiming for glory at The Future Masters in Alabama later this month, the IMG World Championships in San Diego in July, and the US Kids World Championships at Pinehurst in August.

“I’ve heard the Future Masters is the best junior Major out there, so I’m really excited to be invited to play in it. It’s the one I want to win.

“It’s been running for 65 years and some of the best golfers in America played it when they were juniors. Some have even gone on to win The Masters.

“The World Championships is on a longer course so it will be a different kind of test. Hopefully, all the work I’ve been doing off the course will help me get the distance I need.

“The World Championships at Pinehurst is a great tournament. I’ve played there before and I would love to finish in the top 10.

“To me it’s all about improving every year and that’s what I’ve been doing since I started playing; learning and improving.”

McKibbin says he feels his game has progressed over the winter, and trips to warmer climes have certainly helped.

“It’s hard to get good practice in here because of the weather. I’m lucky I was able to go to Dubai to the Butch Harmon Golf School during February and again at Easter. I also played tournament golf in December when I won the Florida Tour Championship.

“I’ve been working on my short game. My swing is in good shape so my coach, Johnny Foster, and I keep an eye on it,” he said.