Battling Ulstermen Michael Hoey and Gareth Maybin are on course for the biggest pay day of their careers in the Omega Mission Hills World Cup.

Ireland's unlikely lads finished with a double bogey six to card a level par 72 in the foursomes in Shenzen.

But after moving up from 18th to 15th alongside Spain, Australia and Canada, they are within touching distance of a top ten finish worth at least $50,000 a man.

Eight shots behind US pair Boo Weekley and Heath Slocum on six under par, the unheralded duo are growing in confidence every day.

Hoey said: "We played really well and we got it to two under for the round in a tough format and were unfortunate to make a double bogey on the 12th.

"Then we got it back to two under again with birdies on the 14th and 15th which was great.

"We played really well and we are enjoying it. Unfortunately the last is a really tough hole and we dropped a few shots.

"But it is still a great finish to the year and we are taking all the posiitves we can when you are playing with the best players in the world.

"It is going to have a long term effect on our careers because you see guys winning and if you can touch up your weaknesses you won't be to far away at all. You have to believe in yourself and feel comfortable."

Weekley and Slocum ensured the United States remained top of the Omega Mission Hills World Cup leaderboard for the second consecutive day after carding a three under par 69 in the foursomes.

At 14 under par, they hold a one-stroke lead over England's Justin Rose and Ian Poulter, and Scotland's Colin Montgomerie and Marc Warren.

Retief Goosen and Trevor Immelman combined to card a three-under 69 to give South Africa sole possession of fourth place while Germany, Italy and Denmark are all tied for fifth.

Ireland are just three shots outside the top ten and they are playing well enough make a big move in today's second session of fourballs.

Maybin said: "We played really solid right up until the 18th, where I blew my drive way right.

"Michael played great all day and hit a lot of great iron shots. I feel kind of hard done by with the score but hopefully we can get one tomorrow."

Hoey added: "Gareth holed some great putts on the way round. We both try our best and that's all you can do. We did a lot better today than yesterday."

England were two strokes clear at one stage after thee front nine birdies and another on the 10th,

But eight pars and a bogey on the 17th left him one stroke adrift of the Americans on 13 under par.

Poulter said: "It would have been nice to be bogey-free but that's out of the way now."

"We can certainly go into tomorrow feeling good and certainly Sunday feeling happy with how we gelled and hitting tee shots like we did today."