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Tom McKibbin back on song with top five finish in Italy

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Shooting low: Tom McKibbin found his form at Italian Challenge Open

Shooting low: Tom McKibbin found his form at Italian Challenge Open

Shooting low: Tom McKibbin found his form at Italian Challenge Open

Tom McKibbin secured his best result on the Challenge Tour since February as he finished fifth at the Italian Challenge Open in Viterbo.

The Holywood man, who represents Galgorm as their touring pro, closed with a one-under 70 at Golf Nazionale to end the week nine-under-par, two shots off winner Kristian Krogh Johannessen of Norway.

It’s a big result for 19-year-old McKibbin, who had come into the event on a run of five missed cuts in his last six events but turned around his form with a spectacular six-under third round to take him into contention going into Sunday.

Although he wasn’t able to get the job done with three birdies and two bogeys not enough on the final day, it was still an important week as it gives him vital points in the Road to Mallorca standings, jumping him up to 29th, with the top-20 at the end of the season earning playing status on the DP World Tour.

Meanwhile, Norway’s Johannessen needed a play-off to defeat Denmark’s Oliver Hundebøll and claim his first Challenge Tour win in a dramatic finish in Viterbo.

Hundebøll blew his chance to win it outright when he double-bogeyed the par-three 17th, tying Johannessen at 11-under, and then Switzerland’s Benjamin Rusch threw away his opportunity of a victory as he took a one-shot lead down the 18th only to also card a double-bogey to finish third at 10-under.

That allowed Johannessen to steal in and claim his maiden Tour win in the play-off, a par down the 18th enough to beat Hundebøll’s double-bogey.

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Elsewhere, the Northern Ireland Open gets under way today at Cairndhu, with places at the ISPS HANDA World Invitational on offer for the top performers.

The Clutch Tour event has a new format this year, played as a pro-am across three venues, with teams teeing it up at Cairndhu today, Castlerock tomorrow and then the top-60 ties plus the top-10 pro-am teams qualifying to play the final round at Galgorm on Wednesday.

The two leading male players and the leading female player will earn places in the field at the tri-sanctioned World Invitational next month, with Ballymena’s Dermot McElroy — who finished runner-up last year — among the favourites to prevail. 


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