Maybin out of luck but in the money

 

Gareth Maybin picked up the biggest cheque of his professional career as he claimed a share of second place at the Ballantine’s Championship in Korea this morning.

Three birdies over his first nine holes helped the Belfast golfer draw level with eventual winner Marcus Fraser on 11 under, but he faltered over the back nine to hand the Australian a four-shot victory that ends a seven-year wait for victory.

Bogeys at the tenth and 12th were rescued somewhat by a birdie three at 13th, but the 29-year-old would leak further shots at the 16th and 18th would see him sign for a level-par 72 to finish on eight under alongside Australia’s Brett Rumford.

Maybin, who also came second at the South African Open in 2008, takes home €191,516 for his share of second.

“It’s been pretty good,” said Maybin after a third top ten of the season. “I didn’t really come in with a whole lot of form so to finish second is a great result any time. I didn’t play the back nine great so there are a few things there that need a bit of improvement but overall happy I’m enough.”

Fraser has been a regular fixture on the European Tour since winning his first title at the 2003 Russian Open, but admitted he was on the verge of walking away from the game with only a handful of top-ten finishes to his name before a prosperous 2009 season.

“It’s unbelievable. I have had a lot of chances over the last six or seven years to win and I haven’t taken them and a lot of doubt creeps into your mind and you start to question whether you should be going it,” said Fraser, who posted six top-20 finishes last year.

“Probably three or four years ago I thought about giving it away just because I was playing terrible. My golf swing wasn’t improving, everything wasn’t getting any better so I thought I was wasting my time and you start to question whether you should playing and if you deserve to be playing and I think I went through a patch like that.”

But on a wind-swept week on the island of Jeju that saw the event reduced to 54 holes, Fraser capitalised on the best of the weather to shot a bogey-free first round 65 on Thursday and after enjoying a day off on Friday, a second-round 70 ensured a one-shot lead.

Fraser made crucial par saves on back-to-back holes before the turn to share the halfway lead with Maybin.

But as the Ulsterman faded down the stretch, Fraser maintained his composure on a testing back nine which halted the challenge of many including world number seven Ernie Els and had the luxury of being able to drop only his second shot of the week on the final green.

Oliver Fisher (71) moved a step closer to reclaiming his card after posting a fifth consecutive top-10 finish five shots off the pace tied for fourth alongside Malaysian Open champion Noh Seung-yul (68).

Last year’s joint runner-up Robert-Jan Derksen (71), Welshman Jamie Donaldson (70), who finished fourth at last week’s Volvo China Open, and Singapore’s Mardan Mamat (72) shared sixth at six-under-par.

Defending champion Thongchai Jaidee (75) and Argentina’s Tano Goya (75), who sat one shot adrift of Fraser heading into the final round, slipped down into a tie for ninth rounding out the top 10 alongside Mikko Ilonen (69), Niclas Fasth (71) and Els (74) a further shot off the pace.

Three-time major winner Els had moved ominously within a shot of Fraser and Maybin at the turn with three birdies, but the WGC-CA Championship winner played his back nine in five-over-par including a double-bogey.

Graeme McDowell closed with a 71 to finish the tournament on one under, while Shane Lowry dropped three shots in the closing three holes in a 75 that left him on one over. Peter Lawrie finished with a 77 to end on four over.