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Gareth Maybin's a world away from world number one Rory McIlroy

By Peter Hutcheon

It is a sobering thought that the money the winner of the season-ending World Tour Championship in Dubai will take home would have been enough for Gareth Maybin to have retained his playing rights on the European Tour next season four times over.

Of course, the Ballyclare man was nowhere near Dubai this week - he was fighting a losing battle to keep his European Tour card at the Qualifying School in Catalunya in Spain.

Needing to finish in the top 27, Maybin could manage just 58th place yesterday and now faces a return to the Challenge Tour six years after graduating from those ranks.

Contrast that with the fortunes of his fellow Ulsterman Rory McIlroy, in contention for the million euro first prize in Dubai and who will be gunning for a career grand slam of majors at Augusta National next April.

The money means nothing to him these days and even the court case with former agents Horizon Sports, which caused him to withdraw from the last two tournaments in the build-up to Dubai, is more about pride than the millions of dollars at stake.

But in modern golf, money is the means to measure success, in McIlroy's case, and failure in Maybin's.

He fell just 36,481 euros short of retaining his playing rights on the main tour, finishing in 123rd place on the order of merit (or Race To Dubai as it is, ironically for those who don't make it, officially called) with total earnings this season of €227, 913.

McIlroy, who shot a bogey free 66 to tie the clubhouse lead with Shane Lowry after the first round of the World Tour Championship yesterday, made more money than Maybin's shortfall in every event he played on the European Tour this year, bar the Irish Open where he inexplicably missed the cut.

And in most cases, with two major titles to take into consideration, he earned considerably more.

McIlroy never suffered the agony of the six-round shoot-out in Spain or the vagaries of the European Challenge Tour, earning his playing rights on the European Tour in 2007 in the space of just three tournaments.

It's going to be a tough road back for Maybin who will have to finish in the top 20 on the Challenge Tour rankings to automatically regain his card, or return to Spain this time next year where, of course, he won't have the luxury of being an immediate past member of the European Tour which brings a more exalted ranking.

Having honed his craft in the USA, Maybin made short work of the Challenge Tour, playing his way onto the main tour at the first attempt.

And as his good friend and fellow Ulster professional Michael Hoey said at the time, he never looked as though he was heading for anywhere other than the game's top table.

And after a promising start, with more than a few top five placings early in that career, it looked as though a maiden victory was only a matter of time.

The trouble was, it never arrived.

Victories are more than just good prize money to pros these days. They bring with them exemptions from qualifying for a year or two, which in turn takes the pressure of having to play well week-in and week-out just to survive.

And that's what happened to Maybin this season. He managed just three top 10 finishes and missed the cut in 13 of the 26 tournaments in which he played.

A total of over a quarter of a million euros for the season might look impressive at first glance, but considering the outlays a professional player must make in order to compete - air fares, hotels, caddy's salaries, he won't have come out too far ahead.

And that situation will be much worse next season when the typical prize fund is around €10,000 euros and the man who came out on top of the money list this year, England's Andrew Johnston, won just €190,000 - considerably less than Maybin. No wonder most of them carry their own bag.

It's not impossible, though. England's Oliver Fisher lost his playing rights in 2009 after three years on tour and, through invitations to European Tour events, earned enough to regain his card for the 2011 season and he went on to win the Czech Open that season.

Maybin has been understandably reluctant to give press interviews with his future hanging in the balance, and his tweets of late have been more about Linfield and Northern Ireland's European Championship qualifying campaign than golf.

It is perhaps unfair to match Maybin's record this season with McIlroy's merely because they happen to be fellow Ulstermen but the statistics do tell a compelling story.

On the European Tour this season Maybin averaged 71.79 per round compared to McIlroy's 69.68.Those two shots translate into eight over the course of a four-round tournament.

McIlroy's driving distance on average is 305 compared to Maybin's 272, a huge advantage which has been a major factor in his return to the world number one position this year.

Since he graduated to the European Tour in 2008 Maybin has won a total of €2,363,329. McIlroy has earned twice that this year on the European Tour alone and since 2007 has won over €22 million.

So those two shots a round and 30 yards further with a driver goes a long way to explaining why McIlroy is the best player on the planet and Maybin is now facing an uncertain future.

 

 

IT is a sobering thought that the money the winner of the season-ending World Tour Championship in Dubai will take home would have been enough for Gareth Maybin to have retained his playing rights on the European Tour next season four times over.

Of course, the Ballyclare man was nowhere near Dubai this week - he was fighting a losing battle to keep his European Tour card at the Qualifying School in Catalunya in Spain.

Needing to finish in the top 27, Maybin could manage just 58th place yesterday and he now faces a return to the Challenge Tour, six years after graduating from those ranks.

Contrast that with the fortunes of his fellow Ulsterman Rory McIlroy, in contention for the million euro first prize in Dubai and who will be gunning for a career grand slam of majors at Augusta National next April.

The money means nothing to him these days and even the court case with former agents Horizon Sports, which caused him to withdraw from the last two tournaments in the build-up to Dubai, is more about pride than the millions of dollars at stake.

But in modern golf, money is the means to measure success, in McIlroy's case, and failure in Maybin's.

He fell just 36,481 euros short of retaining his playing rights on the main tour, finishing in 123rd place on the order of merit (or Race To Dubai as it is, ironically for those who don't make it, officially called) with total earnings this season of €227, 913.

McIlroy, who shot a bogey free 66 to tie the clubhouse lead with Shane Lowry after the first round of the World Tour Championship yesterday, made more money than Maybin's shortfall in every event he played on the European Tour this year, bar the Irish Open where he inexplicably missed the cut.

And in most cases, with two major titles to take into consideration, he earned considerably more.

McIlroy never suffered the agony of the six-round shoot-out in Spain or the vagaries of the European Challenge Tour, earning his playing rights on the European Tour in 2007 in the space of just three tournaments.

It's going to be a tough road back for Maybin who will have to finish in the top 20 on the Challenge Tour rankings to automatically regain his card, or return to Spain this time next year where, of course, he won't have the luxury of being an immediate past member of the European Tour which brings a more exalted ranking.

Having honed his craft in the USA, Maybin made short work of the Challenge Tour, playing his way onto the main tour at the first attempt.

And as his good friend and fellow Ulster professional Michael Hoey said at the time, he never looked as though he was heading for anywhere other than the game's top table.

And after a promising start, with more than a few top five placings early in that career, it looked as though a maiden victory was only a matter of time.

The trouble was, it never arrived.

Victories are more than just good prize money to pros these days. They bring with them exemptions from qualifying for a year or two, which in turn takes the pressure of having to play well week-in and week-out just to survive.

And that's what happened to Maybin this season.

He managed just three top 10 finishes and missed the cut in 13 of the 26 tournaments in which he played.

A total earnings of over a quarter of a million euros for the season might look impressive at first glance, but considering the outlays a professional player must make in order to compete - air fares, hotels, caddy's salaries, he won't have come out too far ahead.

And that situation will be much worse next season when the typical prize fund is around €10,000 and the man who came out on top of the money list this year, England's Andrew Johnston, won just €190,000 - considerably less than Maybin. No wonder most of them carry their own bag.

It's not impossible, though. England's Oliver Fisher lost his playing rights in 2009 after three years on tour and, through invitations to European Tour events, earned enough to regain his card for the 2011 season and he went on to win the Czech Open that season.

Maybin has been understandably reluctant to give press interviews with his future hanging in the balance, and his tweets of late have been more about Linfield and Northern Ireland's European Championship qualifying campaign than golf.

It is perhaps unfair to match Maybin's record this season with McIlroy's merely because they happen to be fellow Ulstermen but the statistics do tell a compelling story.

On the European Tour this season Maybin averaged 71.79 per round compared to McIlroy's 69.68.

Those two shots translate into eight over the course of a four-round tournament.

McIlroy's driving distance on average is 305 compared to Maybin's 272, a huge advantage which has been a major factor in his return to the world number one position this year.

Since he graduated to the European Tour in 2008 Maybin has won a total of €2,363,329.

McIlroy has earned twice that this year on the European Tour alone and since 2007 has won over €22 million.

So those two shots a round and 30 yards further with a driver goes a long way to explaining why McIlroy is the best player on the planet and Maybin is now facing an uncertain future.

Belfast Telegraph

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