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Our Tom begins year with bang by clinching U18 crown in Florida

 

By Gareth Hanna

Newtownabbey's Tom McKibbin is no stranger to the spotlight. He's been widely tipped to follow Rory McIlroy's path to the top level of world golf ever since he was crowned Under-12 world champion back in 2015.

It comes as little surprise, then, that McKibbin, who plays at Rory's own Holywood GC, has once again beaten the world's best to land another title.

McKibbin won the Under-18 Junior Honda Classic by two shots thanks to incredible back-to-back rounds of 74 at the Jack Nicklaus-designed PGA National Resort & Spa in Florida last weekend. After securing the victory, McKibbin took to Twitter to celebrate his 'great start to 2018'.

"I took on the Bear Trap and won," he wrote. "Great couple of days here. Thanks everyone for your support."

The Bear Trap is the intimidating run of holes 15, 16 and 17 at the PGA National Resort, which is said to be among the most demanding three-hole stretches on the PGA Tour.

McKibbin's win adds to the Doral Publix Jr Classic Orangebowl Championship success he landed before the turn of the year.

He beat 600 of the world's top young talents to add his name to that of a certain McIlroy on the Orangebowl trophy, Rory winning the tournament in 1998.

Belfast Royal Academy pupil McKibbin is already an Ireland Under-18 international at the age of just 14, playing off a scratch handicap that the vast majority of amateur golfers couldn't even dream about.

He made his debut with the professionals in 2016 after receiving an invite to play in the Northern Ireland Open.

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