Tom McKibbin continues his solid start to season on DP World Tour

Denmark’s Thorbjorn Olesen claims victory in UAE while France’s Matthieu Pavon seals a suprise success in Farmers Insurance Open on PGA Tour

Tom McKibbin’s solid start to the season – where he has made five straight cuts – continued with a tied-16th place finish in the Ras Al Khaimah Championship in the UAE, where Denmark’s Thorbjorn Olesen impressively sealed the deal in securing his eighth career win on the DP World Tour.

Olesen, who is a resident in Dubai, closed with a final round 67 for a winning total of 27-under-par 261, six shots clear of fellow Dane Rasmus Hojgaard with Frenchman Frederic Lecroix taking solo third place.

A final round 67 for a total of 14-under-par 274 lifted McKibbin up to a share of 16th, which maintained his early-season momentum, on the back of a top-15 in the Desert Classic last week, and moved the 21-year-old Belfastman up six places to 28th on the updated Race to Dubai order of merit.

McKibbin’s three week stint in the UAE proved a rewarding one but he has scheduled in a week’s break, skipping this coming week’s inaugural Bahrain Championship, before resuming tournament play at the following week’s Qatar Masters.


Olesen, who earned a pay-day of €392,000 for his latest win, had his only bogey of the round on the second hole but that was sandwiched between birdies on the first and third and an eagle on the Par 5 eighth set him on course for victory and he was in cruise control coming home, adding three birdies, to sign for a 67.

“Rasmus got out of the blocks really quickly,” observed Olesen of his compatriot’s opening salvo of four birdies in the first seven holes.

“It was tight early on but I managed to hit some good shots and holed the right putts at the right time. Rasmus, he’s probably one of the most talented players out here. He can shoot low on any course and I knew there would be a lot of pressure on me. I felt like I was pretty calm.”

One of McKibbin’s goals this season is to earn one of the 10 spots available on the PGA Tour off the DP World Tour’s order of merit and that pathway on to the US circuit was certainly given a quick endorsement after Frenchman Matthieu Pavon – who earned his card off the 2023 Race to Dubai standings – won the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines.

Pavon’s final round 69 for a total of 13-under-par 275 gave him a one stroke winning margin over Denmark’s Nicolai Hojgaard, Rasmus’s twin brother.

Having played 182 events on the DP World Tour before securing a maiden victory in last year’s Spanis Open, Pavon – who had started his professional career on the developmental Alps Tour – took only three tournaments to make his breakthrough on the PGA Tour.

“[To have] the opportunity to come from Europe and compete here in America against the best players in the world, that’s always been the dream for me. I got finally a shot and I took it. I mean, it’s a dream come true and it’s a little bit hard to believe,” said Pavon, who now gets into the PGA Tour’s new signature tournaments, starting with this week’s AT&T Pebble Beach pro-am.

Shane Lowry had that rarest of birds, an albatross, in his final round where he holed out from 256 yards for a two on the Par 5 sixth hole. That dramatic highlight of an up and down round which also featured four birdies and five bogeys contributed to a closing 70 for a total of six-under-par 282 which left Lowry in tied-25th.

Unfortunately for Lowry, he will sit out the Pebble Beach pro-am after failing to secure one of the four available sponsor’s invitations.

Philip Reid

Philip Reid

Philip Reid is Golf Correspondent of The Irish Times