Tom McKibbin endures frustrating start to ISPS Handa World Invitational at Galgorm Castle

England’s Daniel Brown claimed a two-shot lead after the opening day of the ISPS Handa World Invitational at Castlerock Golf Club as Holywood’s Tom McKibbin endured a frustrating start to the unique tournament.
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​Brown carded an eagle and six birdies in an opening seven-under-par 64 at Castlerock, one of two courses along with Galgorm used for an event sanctioned by the DP World Tour, LPGA Tour and Ladies European Tour which sees male and female players compete at the same time.

McKibbin, who sealed a landmark victory in the Porsche European Open earlier this year after graduating from the European Challenge Tour in 2022, was eight-over-par after his first round at Galgorm Castle.

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The 20-year-old is making his first start in his home country since he became the ninth player from Northern Ireland to win on the DP World Tour.

Tom McKibbin tees off on the 13th during day one of the ISPS HANDA World Invitational at Galgorm Castle Golf ClubTom McKibbin tees off on the 13th during day one of the ISPS HANDA World Invitational at Galgorm Castle Golf Club
Tom McKibbin tees off on the 13th during day one of the ISPS HANDA World Invitational at Galgorm Castle Golf Club

England’s Alex Fitzpatrick and Callan Barrow were part of a four-strong group on five under, with Italy’s Gregorio de Leo the only player in the chasing quartet to compile his score at Galgorm.

Fitzpatrick, who finished 17th in the Open at Royal Liverpool and won his first Challenge Tour title at St Mellion two weeks later, continued his fine form with a 66 which included five birdies in succession.

The 24-year-old, the younger brother of 2022 US Open winner Matt, said: “I just kept hitting greens and made a couple of putts and just went on a bit of a run, which was nice.

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“The wind started to pick up a lot which made it harder to hit greens and give yourself chances. I stuck in well and ground out a decent score. Happy to be where I am.

England's Daniel Brown tees off on the 18th hole on day one of the ISPS HANDA World Invitational at Castlerock Golf Club. Picture: Andrew Redington/Getty ImagesEngland's Daniel Brown tees off on the 18th hole on day one of the ISPS HANDA World Invitational at Castlerock Golf Club. Picture: Andrew Redington/Getty Images
England's Daniel Brown tees off on the 18th hole on day one of the ISPS HANDA World Invitational at Castlerock Golf Club. Picture: Andrew Redington/Getty Images

“I think Galgorm is a tough golf course from what I know and it will play really soft. I think it’s meant to rain and be windy again.

"I’ll try and stick in there and grind out a score and move on to the weekend and see how that goes.”

Ryder Cup hopeful Robert MacIntyre, who holds the last available automatic qualifying place on the European points list, returned a one-under-par 69 at Galgorm Castle, where Victor Perez – who is seventh in the standings – struggled to an opening 74.

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In the women’s event, England’s Gabriella Cowley shared the lead on four under par with Karis Davidson, Kim Metraux and Ellinor Sudow.

Ireland’s Leona Maguire shot a level-par 73 while Jordanstown’s Stephanie Meadow finished on two over.

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