Tom McKibbin headlines elite amateur entry list for World Invitational
Northern Ireland's teenage amateur ace Tom McKibbin headlines a star-studded amateur line-up competing at next month's ISPS Handa World Invitational presented by Modest! Golf.
The 16-year-old, who has competed on the European Tour and won several junior events, has confirmed he will compete at Galgorm Castle and Massereene from August 15-18.
The Royal Belfast student, who is currently studying for his GCSEs while balancing golf, will be one of 21 amateurs in the field at the upcoming event.
The tournament is the first of its kind, seeing men and women competing in the same event for two different prizes, with the prize money split equally between the two winners.
Also taking part are Ulster Strokeplay champions Colm Campbell (Warrenpoint) and Jessica Ross (Clandeboye), with seven of the amateurs from outside Ireland.
But it is teenage phenomenon McKibbin who will be the big draw, with the Holywood man a current Irish international having been named in the Boys' team for the Home Internationals next week.
He has several high-profile wins to his name too having won the Junior Invitational at Sage Valley in the USA and the prestigious Peter McEvoy Trophy in England.
"I’m very grateful to have got the call from Modest! who invited me to play in this year’s ISPS Handa World Invitational. Obviously I had no hesitation in saying yes," said McKibbin.
"I can’t wait to play. The Home Internationals in Wales will be good preparation for Galgorm, but these opportunities to play alongside the professionals are great markers to see where your game is.
"I’ve been lucky enough to play in a few pro events already. Each time you play, you know immediately what you have to do to improve because they all play at such a high level.
"I’ve played enough tournaments now that I don’t really get nervous anymore. I just turn up and try to play my own game.
"I’d love to go well, play as best as I can. To make both cuts, that would be a good goal for the week."
As Ulster Strokeplay champions, Campbell and Ross will also be among the amateurs that are expected to make an impact at the event.
For Campbell, this is a reward for the hard work he put in to battle back from a long layoff with a hand injury, with the Warrenpoint man defeating Marc Boucher by two shots to earn his place.
"I had a tough 2018 and struggled with injury and I also lost my grandad, who I was very close to. He was always a great supporter and this one’s for him," commented Campbell.
"I’m glad to be back playing and it was really nice to get another win under my belt and get the chance to play alongside the pros."
Meanwhile, Ross blew away her opposition to win by 12 strokes in the Girls' portion of the event and, as a result, will now get a shot at her maiden professional event.
"I’m delighted, I’ve never played a professional event before so it will be cool to see how my game matches up with the world’s best," said the Clandeboye golfer.
"The new ISPS Handa World Invitational is a brilliant format, especially for the women’s game. It’s great to see men and women competing at the same venue at the same time."
Other local amateurs include Matthew McClean (Malone), Tiarnan McLarnon (Massereene) and Joshua Hill (Galgorm) on the men's side of the draw, while England's Curtis Knipes competes after recently taking part in The Open at Royal Portrush.
On the ladies' side, Annabel Wilson, Maeve Cummins (both Lurgan), Paula Grant (Lisburn) and Lucy Simpson (Royal Portrush) are all included in the field.
WOMEN: Annabel Wilson (Lurgan), Shannon Burke (Ballinrobe), Jessica Ross (Clandeboye), Maeve Cummins (Lurgan), Paula Grant (Lisburn), Lauren Walsh (Castlewarden), Lucy Simpson (Royal Portrush), Jordan Ryan (Wales), Lea Anne Bramwell (Wales), Chloe Goadby (Scotland), Clara Young (Scotland), Georgina Blackman (England)
MEN: Colm Campbell (Warrenpoint), Matthew McClean (Malone), Marc Boucher (Carton House), Tiarnán McLarnon (Massereene), Odhran Maguire (Slieve Russell), Joshua Hill (Galgorm Castle), Tom McKibbin (Holywood), Curtis Knipes (England), Jayden Tray Schaper (South Africa)
Belfast Telegraph Digital