A spectacular hole-in-one helped Northern Ireland’s Tom McKibbin make a superb start to the Investec South African Open Championship.
The 19-year-old, who hails from the same golf club as world number one Rory McIlroy, holed out with a five iron from 232 yards on the 11th hole at Blair Atholl Golf and Country Estate, the longest course in DP World Tour history.
McKibbin also recorded five birdies and two bogeys to card an opening 67 and trail local favourite Thriston Lawrence by three shots, Lawrence equalling his own course record with a superb 64.
“I’m feeling good, it was a good round of golf to start the week off so I’m pretty happy,” said McKibbin, who secured his DP World Tour card via the Challenge Tour rankings last month.
“[Driving] is probably the strength of my game so to be able to take the head cover off every hole and challenge a few of the bunkers is pretty good.”
Asked about the hole-in-one, McKibbin told Sky Sports: “The caddie said ‘Go right at it’ and it didn’t leave the flag. I can’t see it going in so just listened for the crowd and a roar went up and we knew it was in from there.
“I’ve had five now and only ever seen one of them go in. They’ve all been like that today, uphill and sort of blind but it’s always nice to add another one.”
England’s Ross Fisher birdied five of his last seven holes to shoot 65 and share second place with Sweden’s Jens Fahrbring, with Scotland’s Scott Jamieson a shot further back alongside Germany’s Matti Schmid, who had three eagles in his 66.
Ryder Cup vice-captain Edoardo Molinari matched the 67 of playing partner McKibbin with six birdies and a solitary bogey.
Waterford’s Gary Hurley opened his tournament with a three-under 69 to share 25th position, while Cork golfer John Murphy will need a vast improvement on his opening two-over 74 if he is to make the cut.