Gareth Maybin calls it a day after fine career that saw him take on very best
Gareth Maybin has outlined his belief that 'there is more to life than golf' after retiring from the sport due to injury and family reasons.
The 36-year-old from Ballyclare yesterday announced his decision to quit the professional game and has revealed that he is relishing the prospect of new sporting challenges in the future.
While Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke made headlines across the globe with their major-winning exploits, Maybin also did his bit over the last decade in helping put Northern Ireland golf on the map.
In 2010 the Linfield fan finished the season in the top 40 in the Race to Dubai standings. Two years earlier, in just his third European Tour event, he lost out in a play-off at the South African Open where a stellar cast competed. There were two other runner-up finishes in his six years on the European Tour in a period which included appearances at the Open Championship and US Open. He also represented Ireland in the World Cup of Golf.
After losing his European Tour Card in 2014, he suffered injury problems to his right wrist leading to three operations and inactivity in the past two years.
In February he was forced to pull out of the Johannesburg Open after returning from a long lay-off.
Facing the prospect of another operation and a further year on the sidelines, Maybin decided to call it a day and now can't wait to spend more time with his wife Liz and their two children Reeve (3) and Lori (1).
"My wrist has been in a bad place for a couple of years," stated Maybin.
"It became frustrating when I went to tournaments and couldn't compete because my injury meant I couldn't play to the standard that I knew I was capable of.
"I have a young family and when you go away and have to pull out of tournaments you start to think 'what's the point here?' I'd be thinking I have two little children at home and my wife who I'd rather spend time with, so deciding to retire was a combination of factors.
"I have had three surgeries already and I needed another one. A specialist told me it would be pretty major surgery. It involved breaking a bone and shortening the bone and then putting a plate and a pin in, so it was at least another year out and I couldn't see myself staying out for another year, hence the decision."
On the family element, he added: "I think to be a very successful golfer nowadays you have almost got to be a single man and be totally focused on it. When you get married and kids come along, everything changes. Well, it did for me.
"Obviously when you don't have total focus on golf it becomes harder, but for me having a family was great because it put things into perspective and you realise there is more to life than golf.
"It will be brilliant spending time with my wife and children now. Seeing them grow up will be a dream come true for me."
Maybin, who lives in Templepatrick, reflects with pride on what he achieved.
"I feel very, very lucky. If you had told me when I was 15 or 16 that I would play on the European Tour with the best players in the world, I would have laughed at you," he said.
"To be sitting here today and to have played six years on the Tour, travelled the world and done what I've done, I feel proud and privileged to have been able to do it.
"I played in three majors, the US Open (2010) and two Open Championships (2010 and 2013) which was fantastic. Two of those were in the same year, the US Open was at Pebble Beach and the Open was at St Andrews so it was great to do that at two iconic venues.
"I have had three second places on the main European Tour, being beaten in a play-off in South Africa was obviously the closest I came to winning. That was up against a really good field including Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson and Ernie Els and other top stars."
On four-time major winner McIlroy, recently married to Erica Stoll, Maybin said: "Rory is a class act. You get a lot at the top of their sport who are great athletes but maybe not the nicest of people, but he seems to have it all. He is a great player and a genuinely nice guy and I feel he can go from strength to strength, win more majors and play for as long as he wants."
What next for Gareth, an intelligent and articulate guy?
"I would be interested in getting a job involved in sport. I'm not too sure if it will be golf or something else," said Maybin, who in 2002 took up a scholarship studying Sports Management at the University of South Alabama.
"My real passion is football. Golf was always something I was good at but football was my sporting love and Linfield's my team.
"We have the Irish Cup final next weekend and are going for the title this weekend. Hopefully we will win both. I'll be at the final at Windsor to support the Blues and am really looking forward to it."