by Ronan MacNamara
Tom McKibbin. Photo by Golffile
Tom McKibbin has secured his maiden professional victory, clinching a one stroke victory at a minor tour event in Florida.
The teenager who turned 19 last month backed up an opening round of 66 with a sensational final round eight-under 62 to take the $10,000 cheque at the Minor League Golf Tour event at the Country Club of Coral Springs.
The Holywood native got off to a lightning start with as he opened with a hat trick of birdies before adding further gains on the 5th and 6th to race to five-under for the day as he turned in 31.
Birdies on 12, 14 and 17 saw the Northern Irishman come home in 31 as he carded a bogey-free round to edge Eric Cole to the win.
McKibbin, who will ply his trade on the Challenge Tour this season, which kicks off next month will feel that this win is justice after an ill-fated Korn Ferry Tour bid as he bowed out at the second stage after some visa issues hampered his preparation meaning he arrived just hours before the Q-School event.
McKibbin also made a handful of European Tour (now DP World Tour) appearances with the highlight being a share of 26th on home soil at the ISPS HANDA World Invitational at Galgorm Castle where he is their touring professional.
There were a few notable names competing alongside McKibbin with Brooks Koepka’s brother Chase stumbling to a share of 17th place and Arnold Palmer’s grandson Sam Saunders shared 30th while Ireland’s Ruaidhrí McGee shot a final round 64 to take 23rd.
McGee also opened with three successive birdies before following a brace of gains on 6 and 7 with back-to-back dropped shots before the turn.
Successive birdies on 11 and 12 were followed by a birdie on his penultimate hole which saw him home in 31.