Irish golfer Tom McKibbin held his nerve in Hamburg to claim his first DP World Tour title with a two-stroke victory at the Porsche European Open, on only his 26th DP World Tour appearance.
The 20-year-old displayed maturity beyond his years as he battled home favourites Max Kieffer and Marcel Siem for the title at Green Eagle Golf Courses.
The three players shared the lead at one stage on the back nine. McKibbin, who made the turn 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 par.
What a great win by @tommckibbin8. Not just a very talented golfer, he really is a nice lad. The future of Irish golf, European golf and Ryder cup golf is in good hands. So happy for Dave Mcneilly too, he did a fine job letting Tom play to his strengths. @DPWorldTour https://t.co/epz1GRDfxo
— Padraig Harrington (@padraig_h) June 4, 2023
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 score with a birdie on the 72nd hole, as did Frenchman Julien Guerrier who also shared second place.
Big move up Race to Dubai Rankings
Tom McKibbin, who could now move to to 22nd on the Race to Dubai Rankings after this win, hit his drive on the 18th just right of the fairway, but then hit a nerveless five iron into the heart of the green, two-putting for birdie, a three under round of 70 and a nine under par total.
He joins Holywood Golf Club course mate 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.
Reaction from new DP World Tour winner
Discussing his approach to today’s final round, the Co Down player, who could now move to a career-high 159th on the Official World Rankings, admitted;
“I approached it the same as the first three days. 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 played it the exact same and fortunately played a little bit better.”
McKibben, who graduated from the European Challenge Tour by finishing tenth on the 2022 Road to Mallorca Rankings, become the second Ulster golfer to win the Porsche European Open following the success of Dungannon’s Darren Clarke in 2001.
Shot of the day. Shot of the week.
— DP World Tour (@DPWorldTour) June 4, 2023
“(My hands on 18) were alright actually,” McKibbin stated. “I hit five iron. I picked a club I knew wouldn’t go in the water. I hit it right edge of the green and if it turned over I knew it would go further, so I had no worries. But it was such a good shot, it felt pretty amazing.”
So happy to get my first win at the @PorscheEuropeanOpen on the @DpWorldTour.
A huge thank you to my Mum & Dad, my team, my caddie Dave McNeilly & my sponsors for all their support.
To everyone who has supported me – thank you, I really do appreciate it!! pic.twitter.com/XokrY6vlzS
— Tom McKibbin⛳ (@tommckibbin8) June 4, 2023
“I’ve learned that I’m good enough to win. I always thought I was, but to prove it today was pretty special. 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,” said the Irish golfer, whose best finish this season had been tied-12th at the Singapore Classic..
Select Final Scores:
283 T MCKIBBIN 72 69 72 70,
285 M KIEFFER (GER) 69 71 75 70, M SIEM (GER) 71 73 70 71, J GUERRIER (FRA) 72 74 67 72,
287 F LACROIX (FRA) 73 73 71 70,
288 J SMITH (ENG) 70 71 72 75, D LAW (SCO) 75 66 72 75, J AXELSEN (DEN) 77 67 69 75, A BJ?RK (SWE) 72 72 69 75,
290 R LANGASQUE (FRA) 73 75 74 68, R GOUVEIA (POR) 76 73 70 71, C SYME (SCO) 73 77 69 71, P WARING (ENG) 71 72 72 75,
291 B EASTON (RSA) 77 69 76 69, F LAPORTA (ITA) 74 74 74 69, P FIGUEIREDO (POR) 73 74 73 71, R MACINTYRE (SCO) 76 68 74 73, F SCHOTT (GER) 71 75 72 73, E FERGUSON (SCO) 71 72 72 76,
292 M PAVON (FRA) 75 74 72 71, S TARRIO (ESP) 71 72 73 76,