Sport Golf

Thursday 14 November 2019

Maybin looks for more despite being right in hunt

William S Callahan

GARETH MAYBIN struggled to find the right words to describe the bogey-free first-round 65 which propelled him right into contention at the Volvo China Open.

Surely he was delighted with his lowest round in more than three months on the European Tour? "No," the Belfast man replied bluntly. "As poorly as I played, it's almost embarrassing... but I'll take it."

Heaven help the opposition if Maybin ever hits top gear on the golf course. "It wasn't very good," the 30-year-old explained. "Anytime you shoot seven-under, it's good but that wasn't a pretty 65. I putted well and wedged it good but drove horribly.

"I've all afternoon today and tomorrow to try and find out how to drive it a little straighter. If I start putting it in the fairway, then I'll feature."

According to the official stats, Maybin, who lies just one stroke off the pace set by clubhouse leader Chang-won Han, hit nine of 14 fairways along with 16 greens in regulation and required just 27 putts yesterday.

And missing fairways isn't going to be much of a problem at Luxehill International Golf Club in Chengdu this week as there's no rough to speak of.

In contrast to Maybin, Han, a 19-year-old South Korean, was elated with his bogey-free 64, especially after landing birdies on his final four holes.

"I've been playing golf for nine years but this is my first season as a professional and I've not made much money yet, so it'd be nice to get some this week," said the OneAsia Tour pro.

At the other end of the spectrum, Ireland's three-time Major champion Padraig Harrington plainly found it difficult to get out of holiday mood after spending the early part of this week sightseeing with his family.

At one point, he even stripped off his shoes and socks, rolled up his trouser legs and went for a paddle in the pond to the left of the par-five seventh, his 16th.

Harrington had hit his drive into the hazard but was lucky when his ball held up on the bank. Getting his feet wet was eminently worthwhile as he saved par at the hole.

Yet he had two bogeys and just three birdies during a lacklustre round of 71, in which the Dubliner pulled a lot of his shots left and putted tentatively. He's in sore need of improvement to make the cut.

Happily, Harrington's fellow Irishmen Peter Lawrie (who shot a faultless 68), Paul McGinley (68) and Shane Lowry (69), joined the birdie-fest, with Lowry recovering well from a bogey six at the first to pick up shots at three and four, followed by an eagle three at seven.

Damien McGrane, two-under through 16, and Michael Hoey, two-under through 14, were among two dozen players still on the course when play was suspended due to poor light.

China Open,

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