Tom McKibbin: Northern Ireland teenager turns professional and will play in this week's Tenerife Open

Tom McKibbin in action at last year's Irish Open at Galgorm Castle
Tom McKibbin wins during his early teenage years included a victory at the Junior Honda Classic in Florida

Northern Ireland teenager Tom McKibbin has turned professional and his first European Tour event in the paid ranks will be this week's Tenerife Open.

McKibbin, 18, recorded several wins in prestigious boys and youth events on both sides of the Atlantic including a triumph in the Junior Honda Classic.

He also represented Ireland in the Home Internationals and narrowly missed out on a spot at this year's Walker Cup.

"I'm ecstatic to make my professional debut next week," said McKibbin.

"Thank you to everyone who has supported me throughout my amateur career and the European Tour for this opportunity."

After making his professional debut in Tenerife, McKibbin will compete in European Tour and Challenge Tour events during the remainder of 2021.

Tom McKibbin was unfazed by McIlroy comparisons as an 11-year-old

McKibbin has signed a management deal with JMC Sport, whose director of player management Mitchell Tweedie said they were "delighted to start this journey with him".

"I look forward to watching him grow and prosper across the various global tours."

McKibbin played in a number of European Tour and Challenge Tour events as an amateur including the Northern Ireland Open and the World Invitational events at Galgorm Castle in his native Northern Ireland.

His triumphs in junior golf events all over the world inevitably led to comparisons with compatriot Rory McIlroy and the duo have formed a close bond, with the four-time major winner helping to mentor McKibbin, who also hails from the same Holywood Club just outside Belfast.

McKibbin's amateur career also included representing Great Britain & Ireland on two occasions in the Jacques Leglise Trophy against Europe, which is played at under-18 level.

He also reached the final of last year's Australian Amateur Championship.