McKibbon Admits He Gets Used To Being Dubbed ‘The Next Rory McIlroy’.

Ultra-talented Irish teenager Tom McKibbin reckons he’s getting used to being dubbed – “The Next Rory McIlroy”.

The 15-year old McKibbon was formally introduced to the American golfing public with a ‘stardom-like’ appearance Saturday on The Golf Channel.

McKibbon was welcomed and interviewed by Damon Hack, a former golf writer with Sports Illustrated who has been with the Golf Channel since 2012 and is currently one of the more-knowledgeable co-hosts on Morning Drive.

McKibbon informed Hack he began playing golf at the age of seven when he was out playing soccer with his friends.

“The dad of one of my friends was going up to a driving range and he asked me if I wanted to join them,” said McKibbon.

“Ever since that moment I just really wanted to continue playing golf.”

McKibbon, who is now six-feet tall, arrived at the Orlando studios with his golf clubs and Hack had him hit a few shots but before hitting a first practice ball asking one of those quintessential ‘Americanised’ questions.

Tom McKibbon with The Golf Channel’s Damon Hack. (Photo @tommckibbin8)

“What’s your ‘thought-process’ standing over a shot with a golf club in your hand,” said Hack.

The Royal Belfast Academy student, and holding a 6-iron, responded:  “Well, just sort be sure my set-up is good and then just focus from there in hitting it straight.”

The interview session soon led to touching on McKibbon’s friendship with Rory McIlroy and with Hack keen to know his relationship with the four-time Major winner.

“Tom’s from Northern Ireland and apparently, can I say you’re buddies with Rory McIlroy or it that overstating it.  How would you describe your relationship with Rory”? said Hack.

McKibbon answered:  “It’s very, very .. well I can sort of talk to him whenever I want.

Tom McKibbon win the 2018 U18 Ulster Order Of Merit

“Rory said he’s always there if I want to contact him to get advice I need and he’s there to help me and make me better.

“What I’ve learnt from talking with Rory is just continue to keep trying to be myself and just keep on keeping on doing what I am doing, and practice as hard as I can.”

Hack asked McKibbon if knowing McIlroy as well and in being buddies with Rory if led to any extra pressure and also with McKibbon already being labelled the next ‘Rory McIloy’ and whether he felt that ‘a little bit odd’.

“Umm, it’s weird sometimes but then I sort of get used to it a bit,” said McKibbon.

“I don’t really watch myself walking down the street or anything so it doesn’t really bother me.”

A younger Tom McKibbon as an ambassador for Irish Hospice (Photo -Irish Hospice)

McKibbon stepped-up and hit another 6-iron shot with Hack remarking: “Look at that speeeed.  Woh!  That is perfection.”

McKibbon agreed the best aspect of his game was his driving while his iron play has become a ‘lot better’ but he loves hitting the driver.

But before hitting a shot there was then a double-barrel enquiry from Hack.

“Okay, you’ve got your driver, so let’s see what you’re got with the big club that sets eveeerything up BUT how to you balance your life being travelling the woorld.  You’re still going to school so how do you make all this work, uh?”

“Aaah, it’s really hard so I just try and get things done early and try and enjoy my golf after that,” said McKibbon.

“I try on focus on school, as well which is pretty hard as there is quite a lot of it but I know my school is great, and it’s great they allow me to play golf.”

According to The Golf Channel’s studio ‘Trackman’ McKibbon hit the ball 314-yards with a carry of 303-yards.

“How much do you pay attention to those numbers.  Are you into Trackman and do you do you know your ball-speed, swing-speed and how much are you into the numbers, the daaata”?

Tom McKibbon made his European Tour debut in the Shot Clock Masters and one of two amateurs but missing the cut with scores of 71 and 78 in the 120-player Belgium field.

“Uumm, I have been onto Trackman a few times to gauge my swing-speed just to see how fast I can hit it sometimes,” said McKibbon.

“Obviously, I look at carry just to get my distances right but I would not really look at anything else as my main focus is just carry and swing-speed and that is all I really look at.”

Hack then quizzed are you a faaader?  Are you draaawer?  What’s your natural swing shape?

“I would say I naturally draw it but just sort here in the States my game is fine with the draw,” he said.

Hack’s next question:  “Alright, let’s see another swing with the driver.  I mean this is powerful and you’re not even done growing.  What are six feet tall”?

“Yes, six feet,” McKibbon confirmed.

Tom McKibbin runner-up 2018 Panoramica Torneo International at Castellon, Spain.

Hack remarked: “Fifteen years of age, ladies and gentleman.  That’s a carry of 304-yards and 316.5-yards.    He’s already played in the Shot Clock Masters on the European Tour.  What was that experience like?  I would have been shaking in my shoes”.

“Yeah, it was a great experience and I really enjoyed it”, said McKibbon.  “I played pretty good the first round but not so good the second round but overall it was great experience and I learned so much what I have to do to get better and that was amazing”.

Hack rekindled fond memories of McKibbon grabbing a second-round 6-iron hole-in-one earlier this year in the Nick Faldo hosted Major Champions Invitational and on route to victory on the Bella Collina, Orlando course also designed by Faldo in 2002.

The ace was miraculously caught on film and replayed to viewers of The Golf Channel.

McKibbon’s win came on the same weekend McIlroy captured the Arnold Palmer Invitational and winning the Major Champions after earlier success in the Under-18 Junior Honda Classic and Doral Publix Jnr Classic Orangebowl Championship.

Hack asked McKibbon what the future holds for him and what ‘would you like to accomplish for Tom McKibbon in this wonderful, crazy game of golf.”

“I am going to the University of Florida in a couple of years and I can’t wait for that,” he answered.

“Then hopefully turn pro shortly after that.  I can’t wait.”

And in conclusion Hack asked if McKibbon had aspirations also of joining McIlroy in becoming an Open Champion.

“Obviously, that would be a great dream of mine but just to professional golf and to do as good as I possibly could would be beyond wild”.





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