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Maybin opens a Major door

Gareth Maybin has ensured a strong Irish presence at next month's US Open after brilliantly completing the closing six holes of a qualifier in six under par.

Maybin eagled the par-five 13th at Walton Heath's New Course and birdied four other holes over his inward nine to finish the equal-third leading qualifier.

The 29-year-old Ballyclare player now joins fellow Ulster golfers Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell along with Pádraig Harrington in the championship starting on June 17.

England's James Morrison topped the 80 qualifiers with the reigning Madeira Islands Open champion also carding a second-round 65 to finish on 11 under par.

Maybin will be contesting his first Major championship and he could not have been happier, particularly after the disappointment last July of being the first reserve into the British Open and having to wait all day at Turnberry for no player to withdraw.

"I am just so pleased because I just played brutal this morning, so I don't know how I shot 65 this afternoon," he said. "I adjusted the shaft in my driver, managed to score a lot better and holed a few putts."

While Maybin left Walton Heath pleased with his effort, Darren Clarke has withdrawn, out of frustration with his game, from this week's Madrid Masters.

Clarke started with a two-over-par 74 that included a triple bogey on Walton Heath's Old Course, but there was little joy over the New Course with Clarke signing for a 72 and a two over par tally.

Also missing out on qualifying for the US Open were Shane Lowry (71 & 69), Gary Murphy (73 & 72) and Peter Lawrie (73 & 75).

Meanwhile, Scotland's Martin Laird hit a superb seven-under-par second-round 63 to earn a place in the Open Championships at a 36-hole qualifier in Texas today. At 11 under, Tim Petrovic finished first.