A wire-to-wire victory at the inaugural Qingdao Golf Open – the first of his European Challenge Tour career – provided Northern Ireland’s Gareth Maybin with the perfect present on his 28th birthday.
Maybin never looked back after compiling a stunning round of 62 on the opening day in Qingdao, China, and closed with a round of 68 to finish on 19 under par, six shots clear of his nearest rivals.
The Ulsterman’s mastery of the course at Qingdao Huashan Golf & Resort was such that he only dropped two shots over the four rounds, and birdied every hole except the part three second and 17th.
More importantly, the €56,049 Maybin collected moved him to the top of the Challenge Tour Rankings, and guaranteed him full playing privileges on The 2009 European Tour International Schedule.
He said: “What a birthday – I’ll remember this one for a while. From tee to green, I played as well as I’ve ever played this week. My concentration and mental strength were also spot on. I was so focused on what I was doing, I didn’t really allow myself to think about winning until the 18th tee. I’m so delighted to have shot 19 under par, and ecstatic to have this trophy on my lap. The winner’s cheque will also come in handy, because I recently bought my first house in Belfast.
“But the most important thing is that I’ve guaranteed my European Tour card for next season, and I’m just itching to get out there now. You want to test yourself against the best in whatever sport you play. Damien McGrane and Darren Clarke have also won in China this year, so it’s obviously a happy hunting ground for the Irish. I’m sure I’ll have a few beers later, but the real celebrations will have to wait until after Kazakhstan next week.”
Having held a four shot overnight lead, Maybin extended his advantage with three birdies on the front nine and, though he dropped a shot on the 14th, he immediately recovered with a birdie on the next hole to effectively seal victory.
Six shots back in a tie for second on 13 under par were Sweden’s Klas Eriksson, the English duo of David Horsey and Gary Lockerbie, Scotland’s Richie Ramsay and Austria’s Roland Steiner.