Gareth Maybin clinched his place at next month’s US Open in electrifying style by picking up six shots in the last six holes at qualifying yesterday — but there was agony for Darren Clarke who failed to make it and immediately pulled out of this week’s Tour event in sheer frustration,
Ballyclare-man Maybin eagled the par five 14th at Walton Heath's New Course and birdied four other holes over his inward nine to finish equal third leading qualifier, securing his first chance at success in a Major.
In stark contrast, after rounds of 74 and 72 Clarke promptly withdrew from this week’s Madrid Masters.
“I have withdrawn from Madrid and it's just that I need a break,” he said.
“It's like I am flogging a bit of a dead horse. I really don't know what I am going to do and it's just that I feel like putting my clubs away, and they might never every come out again.”
Maybin had looked like missing out after carding an opening 71 in the 36-hole qualifying event yesterday morning, but his barnstorming finish took him to an afternoon 65 at the Old Course.
It will more than make up for the disappointment Maybin suffered last summer at the Open Championship at Turnberry where he was the first reserve, but still failed to make the field.
“I am just so pleased because I just played brutal in the morning in posting a 71 so I don't know how I shot 65 in the afternoon,” he said.
“I adjusted the shaft in my driver between rounds and I drove it a bit better, but not much. I just managed to score a whole lot better and holed a few putts.”
Maybin began his run towards a qualifying spot by getting up and down from a bunker at the 13th hole for birdie ahead of eagling the par five 14th when he hit a three-wood second shot to 20 feet and knocked in the putt.
The 29-year-old attended college in America for three years before turning professional and then competed for pay for a further three years ahead of joining the secondary Challenge Tour in 2008. But, in those six years playing in the United States Maybin had never travelled further west than Ohio.
“I've never been to California and all I know about Pebble Beach is that Tiger won by 15 shots in 2000 so I'm looking forward to it,” said Maybin.
“It will be my first Major and that's a great achievement as that one of my goals all year to play in a first Major.
“But it's been a pretty consistent season for me and the two courses seem to set up perfectly for me and fortunately I was able to take advantage of them.”
Graeme McDowell heaved a huge sigh of relief when yesterday’s new world rankings confirmed not only his position in the world’s top 50 — but with that his places at both the US Open and Open Championship.
The Ulsterman says he was being constantly asked about his position in the rankings at Wentworth last week with so much at stake, but insists he was able to put that right out of his mind.
“I was being asked about the whole top 50 issue last week, but I couldn't let that distract me,” he said. “All I wanted to do was focus on each shot, each round and have a good week.
“I was having a very good week with only 12 holes left to play, but had a disastrous run from the seventh to the 16th.”
That run of seven dropped shots was halted by a chip-in eagle at the 17th to secure a share of 28th place — and ultimately his place at the next two Majors.