Maybin in the mix

By Brian Keogh

Ballyclare's Gareth Maybin moved into contention for the €150,000 Challenge of Ireland at Glasson and a possible return to European golf.

The 26-year old former North of Ireland champion, hit a one over par 73 to share eighth place on two-under par at the halfway stage of the European Challenge Tour event near Athlone

Based in Alabama, where he has earned over $175,000 in three years on the US Hooters Tour, Maybin is toying with the idea of a return to European golf.

Tied for third in the Wales Challenge last week, the former Irish international hopes to take advantage of a series of Challenge Tour invitations over the next few weeks before making up his mind.

Tied for eight place with Justin Kehoe on two under par, Maybin said: "If I can keep playing good over here I will stay. But I am not sure which of the two qualifying schools I will go to yet.

"The US and European Q-Schools clash and I'll just wait and see before I make a final decision on that.

"I've been close to getting a Nationwide Tour card for the last two years. But the Challenge Tour prize funds are very similar to the Hooters Tour and my girlfriend is living in Northern Ireland so I'd like to come home.

"It was very tough out there today and I am very happy with a 73. I had a good finish last week and I am in the next two events in Scotland and Norway, so let's see if I can get up the Challenge Tour rankings and then take it from there."

Frenchman Michael Lorenzo-Vera could not match his first round 63 as just 10 players broke par in gusty conditions on the banks of Lough Ree.

But his battling 73 still helped him move three shots clear of the field on eight under par as Welshman Liam Bond fired a best of the day 66 share second place with Swedes Magnus Carlsson and Fredrik Widmark.

Belfast’s Michael Hoey made the three-over par cut on the mark after an 18 foot par save on the last.

The former British Amateur champion hit a one over par 73 and confessed that despite winning earlier this season, his confidence has been severely dented by his poor driving.

He said: “I don’t know how I won in Italy driving it as badly as I have. Even though my putting and chipping has been very good, I have been pulling everything with the driver.

“Since I moved back to Belfast I haven’t seen my coach Andrew Nicholson for about four weeks. But it is nice to be in for the weekend. I have missed a few cuts by a shot this year.”