Four Northern Irish players one step closer to Open spots as McKibbin (16) thrilled to book his place in final qualifying
Teenage Holywood ace Tom McKibbin is one of four Northern Irish players a step closer to a dream place in The Open Championship at Royal Portrush after reaching the final stage of qualifying for the tournament.
The 16-year-old shot a four-under-par 68 at County Louth GC, one of 13 regional qualifying venues, to reach the final qualifying stage which will be held on July 2 at four different venues.
With 13 spots on offer at Louth, McKibbin has been joined in the next round by Moyola Park pro Gareth Shaw as well as amateurs Tiarnan McLarnon (Massereene) and Colm Campbell (Warrenpoint).
McKibbin's excellent round secured his place in the next stage, where he will need to finish in the top three at whichever course he will compete at.
"Portrush has been a massive goal for me all year and hopefully today was one step closer to that," said McKibbin.
"I haven't been playing a lot lately and to get back and shoot a score like that is very satisfying.
"The final qualifying round should be a good experience anyway but I'll just have to go and try and play my best, that's all I can do, and hope that it is good enough."
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Ballymena's Dermot McElroy was among the notable names to miss out, while Royal Portrush's head professional Gary McNeill and Whitehead ace John-Ross Galbraith also failed to qualify.
There was disappointment for former snooker world champion Shaun Murphy too as he failed to qualify after shooting a 12-over-par 84, while Sky Sports pundit John E Morgan is one of the reserves for the final qualifying stage after just missing out.