Tom (13) to tee it up with Rory in dream come true for a star of the future
A teenage golf sensation has been invited to play alongside Rory McIlroy ahead of the Irish Open - and gets a day off school to boot.
Tom McKibbin (13) has been making his name in the sport since the tender age of nine.
From Newtownabbey outside Belfast, he plays off an exceptional handicap of 5.5 and won the World Junior Championships last year and the Junior Honda Classic in Florida earlier this year.
A member of Holywood Golf Club, McIlroy's home club, Tom has been invited by the Rory Foundation to take part in the Pro Am event ahead of the Irish Open at the K Club later this month.
"I met Rory while I was in Dubai last October and we got chatting while we were both practising," explained Tom. "When I won the Honda Classic in Florida in January, Rory sent me a message and invited me to play golf with him.
"I have to thank Rory for inviting me to play in the Pro Am. Not only do I get a day off school but I get to play alongside one of the best golfers in the world.
"It's getting close now and I'm pretty excited. I've been practising as often as possible," he added.
The Irish Open takes place at the K Club in Dublin from May 19-22. It is being hosted by the Rory Foundation, a charitable trust set up by McIlroy.
McIlroy described Tom as "a great talent" and "the real deal".
"At only 13 years of age, I think he has a remarkable golfing future ahead of him - having seen him play a couple of times now, he impresses me more each time," he added.
Among those taking part in the Pro Am event are One Direction's Niall Horan and retired jockey AP McCoy.