Irish Open: Maybin arrives early in hope that practice makes perfect
The Irish Open means more to Gareth Maybin than even playing the Open Championship.
The Ballyclare man pulled out of the final qualifying at Sunningdale for next month's championship in order to get in an extra practice round at Royal Portrush.
“Playing the Irish Open at Royal Portrush is may be a once in a lifetime experience, although I hope it's not,” he said.
“Having an Irish Open in Northern Ireland definitely made it the number one priority in my eyes, so I'm hoping the extra practice here will pay off.
“The build-up and the excitement for it has been amazing and even though I'm away on tour most of the time, just talking to my family and friends and seeing what a massive deal they are making of it, fills you with a sense of real anticipation.”
Maybin missed the cut at last week's BMW championship in Cologne which helped him make up his mind to skip Sunningdale after originally pencilling in the 36-hole one-day qualifying event into his schedule.
Having played the Open and the US Open two years ago, he says playing in the majors on a regular basis is a main goal, but that Royal Portrush was just too important not to focus on this time around.
“After missing the cut in Germany I didn't fancy hanging around in London for a couple of days before going to Sunningdale,” he explained.
“To play 36 holes in a day and then come straight over here to practice just didn't feel like a great idea.
“So I thought I would come home for the weekend and rest up, come here to get in a practice round, rest again and then play the Pro-Am on Wednesday,” he explained.
“It a much more relaxed way to get ready for the tournament when it begins on Thursday and hopefully I'll be ready to play well when I tee it up then.”
With so many of this week's field at Sunningdale, Maybin and his caddie had the Dunluce course practically to themselves.
But Maybin isn't expecting the calm conditions he enjoyed to last for the rest of the week.
“When there's not a lot of wind, Royal Portrush is very gettable,” he said.
“But it doesn't take much of a breeze to make this place very tricky.
“We're getting a good look at how it is set up for the tournament and picking out a few lines and developing a game plan.
“Having played the North and other competitions round here in the past is definitely going to be an advantage for all the Northern Ireland players this week.
“I'm expecting a little rain and the wind to get up quite a bit on Thursday.
“You never like playing in the rain but knowing this place the way I do and I've played it a lot in the rain over the years, I'll be alright.”