Tom McKibbin continues super start to rookie season in South Africa

Tom McKibbin and his caddie David McNeilly on the ninth hole during the final round of the SDC Championship 2023 at St. Francis Links in South Africa. Photo: Warren Little/Getty Images

Brian Keogh

Holywood’s Tom McKibbin continued his impressive start to his rookie season by racking up his sixth top-25 from 11 starts in the SDC Championship in South Africa.

The Newtownabbey star (20) was tied 98th after an opening 76 at St Francis Links in Eastern Cape before roaring back with rounds of 65, 72 and 69 to finish tied 18th behind England’s Matthew Baldwin on six-under-par in just his 11th start.

“Game is in good shape,” McKibbin said.

“Putts weren’t dropping, but the greens were pretty slow, so I’m not worrying about that.”

McKibbin is now 67th in the Race to Dubai with tournament earnings of €134,886.

He finished 12 strokes behind Baldwin, who began the day alongside Kristian Krogh Johannessen at the top of the leaderboard but made three birdies in the last four holes of his delayed third round to take a four-stroke advantage into round four.

Playing in his 200th event after 11 years on tour, Southport-born Baldwin closed with a four-under 68 to win on 18-under-par from Spain’s Adri Arnaus. “I’m not 100 per cent sure what’s just happened,” said Baldwin, who lost most of the 2015 season due to illness before losing his card in 2016.

Dedicating his win to his late stepfather, he added: “It’s been a tough few years, so obviously to get the win means absolutely everything. I can’t process it right now, but it means the world to me.”

Meanwhile, Rossmore’s Kate Dwyer carded rounds of 71 and 74 to win the Woodbrook Ladies’ Scratch Cup by one stroke from Lahinch’s Aideen Walsh (74-72) on one-under 145 in wet and windy conditions.