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11th Feb 2024

Tom McKibbin with another fine finish, as Phoenix Open descends into chaos

Paddy Morgan

Phoenix Open

Viewer discretion is advised for some of these Phoenix scenes…

There was another impressive DP World Tour finish for 21-year-old Belfast native Tom McKibbin on a golfing day that ended with drama, and some unsavoury scenes, at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, in the USA.

The WM Phoenix Open, with its’ trademark ‘stage’ and gallery holes, prides itself on being a looser, more relaxed golf tournament from some of the buttoned-up ones on the PGA Tour. Fans showed up early and got on the drink, with several unsavoury scenes being shared across social media. This one sums up how much some patrons were struggling with taking on too much in the Arizona sun:

Jordan Spieth was exasperated with fans shouting and heckling through his back-swing, being picked up cursing about the situation on the course microphones.

Earlier in the day, former Masters champion and 2023 Ryder Cup captain of Team USA, Zach Johnson was involved in an angry clash with boisterous fans:

There was another angry exchange with fans as Billy Horschel scolded fans for shouting through the back-swing of his player partner. Horschel proclaimed:

“Buddy, when he’s over a shot, shut the hell up, man. He’s trying to hit a damn golf shot here – it’s our f***ing job!”

As for the tournament itself, it was shaping up as a four-horse race, heading into the back nine.

Charley Hoffman and world number one Scottie Scheffler traded the lead, with Nick Taylor on the scene, along with Sahith Theegala, who has picked up lots of new fans since being featured on Netflix’s Full Swing documentary.

Shane Lowry went into the final day some seven shots off the lead. He faltered around the turn and finished up well down the leaderboard after a +5 final round. Nick Taylor of Canada ended up winning the event after beating Charley Hoffman in a tense, exciting playoff.

Phoenix Open

Tom McKibbin’s rise continues

Away from those scenes in Scottsdale, Arizona, Tom McKibbin was coming up with another impressive finish on the DP World Tour. Golf writer Paddy Morgan has the full final day story.

Doha Golf Club was the venue for 2024 Qatar Masters. Northern Irishman Tom McKibbin started his final round on nine under one shot behind joint leaders Rasmus Hojgaard, Rikuya Hoshino and Hugo Coussaud on 10 under.

Weather was poor for the start of day four with rain and wind. McKibbin played his final round with Ewen Ferguson and Niklas Norgaard. McKibbin opened up with five pars in a row. After
four holes Hoshina and Coussaud were tied first on 11 under. The rain stopped and blue skies appeared as McKibbin was playing his sixth hole.

The sixth hole at Doha was the second toughest hole on day four playing 484 yards and McKibbin was successful in achieving a par. Hoshino made two birdies in a row at five and six to lead outright on 12 under. Hoshino dropped a shot on hole seven after a weak chip shot. McKibbin had birdie chances at the eight and ninth hole but shot a front nine of even par. Coussaud dropped a shot at hole eight and Hoshino was leading after nine holes on 11 under. Coussad was not done yet, though:

McKibbin advanced to 10 under after an up and down at 535 yard par five 10th hole. Hoshino also took advantage of the par five 10 th hole as he returned to 12 under. McKibbin hit a excellent tee shot at 193 yard par three 13th hole but was unsuccessful with his birdie effort. Northern Irishman was playing great tee to green but was unable to find a hot putter.

Scott Jameison had the best score on day four with a round of 65 to finish on 12 under. Hojgaard played his front nine in two over and his challenge came to an end after a duffed chip shot on hole 14. Coussaud reached 12 under after a sensational iron shot on hole 14. An extraordinary tee shot from McKibbin to find the green at reachable 296 yard par four 16 th hole. McKibbin two putted to make his second birdie of day four to reach 11 under. Coussaud made an error as his tee shot on hole 16, missed the green and had to settle for a disappointing par.

McKibbin’s birdie effort at 141 yard par three 17 th was extremely close but managed to escape with a par. McKibbin flushed a 3 wood on hole 18 which came to rest 121 feet from the pin. Hoshino made two birdies in a row at 16 and 17 to reach 14 under.

An eagle at 18 would not be enough for McKibbin to win his second DP World Tour event. McKibbin finished with a three putt to shoot a round of 70. A solid round from the Northern Irish prospect which included 16 pars and two birdies. McKibbin finished 11 under in fourth and earned $125,000.

Hojgaard finished tied sixth on nine under. Coussaud finished on 13 under after holing his birdie putt on 18. Hoshino held a fantastic short-range par putt to win Qatar Masters. A brilliant back
nine of three under gives Hoshino a well-deserved win.

*Additional reporting by Pat McCarry

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