Tom McKibbin wins first DP World Tour title after fine finish

Tom McKibbin celebrates with the trophy in Hamburg
Tom McKibbin celebrates with the trophy in Hamburg

TOM McKibbin held his nerve in Hamburg as he claimed his first DP World Tour title with a two-stroke victory at the Porsche European Open.

The 20-year-old, a member of Holywood Golf Club, produced a display of maturity beyond his years as he battled home favourites Max Kieffer and Marcel Siem for the title at Green Eagle Golf Courses.

“I’ve learned that I’m good enough to win. I always thought I was, but to prove it today was pretty special,” said McKibbin, who was making just his 26th start on the tour after graduating from the 2022 European Challenge Tour

“I guess I’ve learned a lot from failures, missing cuts by a shot and missing things slightly. So to take those things I’ve learned and put them into play was nice.”

The trio shared the lead at one stage on the back nine but McKibbin, who reached the turn in three under par, recovered from dropped shots on the 11th and 13th holes with a birdie on the 15th to move clear on eight under.

“I approached it the same as the first three days,” he said.

“The course is hard, the way I played the first three days was good enough so I thought if I played the same sort of golf and shot three or four under it might be enough.

“I knew going out it was such a hard golf course that you didn’t have to force loads of birdies and there wouldn’t be too many people going too low. That helped a bit.

“I saw after nine that I had a one or two-shot lead, then by 14 I had a one-shot lead and I knew with three par fives in the last four anything could happen. So I just tried to keep my head down.”

Kieffer narrowly missed an eagle putt on the 18th which would have taken him to eight under, settling for a seven under par total. Siem joined him on that number with a birdie of his own on the 72nd hole, as did Frenchman Julien Guerrier who also shared second place.

McKibbin hit his drive on the 18th just right of the fairway, but then hit a nerveless five iron around a tree into the heart of the green, two-putting for birdie, a three-under round of 70 and a nine under par total.

“I asked my caddie Dave [McNeilly] if it would be easier to hit the second shot right of the green and then chip down,” he said.

“I knew I had to hit a straight shot and I’d be 10-15 yards right of the green. I didn’t fancy hitting a wedge over the water, anything could have happened.

“So I took a club I knew if I started right-half of the green and it turned over the water wasn’t in play and if I mis-hit it it would have gone straight. It looked like a scary shot, but in my mind, I knew there was margin for error.”

He joins fellow club member Rory McIlroy as a winner on the 2023 Race to Dubai after the four-time Major champion’s triumph at the Hero Dubai Desert Classic in January.