Ballyclare's Gareth Maybin can go from minor to Major thanks to his brilliant South African Open show.

The Ulsterman, 28, jumped 94 places to 90th in the world despite losing to Richard Sterne in a sudden death play-off at Pearl Valley.

And that means he's on course to tee it up with the rest of the world's top 100 in the US PGA at Hazeline next season.

Maybin was playing on the third tier US Hooters Tour two years ago, but scorched 444 places up the world rankings this year alone.

Last season, he secured his Challenge Tour card on invites and teamed up with Michael Hoey to help Ireland qualify for the Mission Hills World Cup.

But he was even more impressive this season as he grabbed his tour card by finishing fourth in the Challenge Tour rankings.

Defeat in South Africa cost him a two-year European Tour exemption but he's already halfway towards retaining his card after earning €144,290 from his first four starts to lie 11th in the Race to Dubai standings.

It's been a record breaking season for Ireland with eight tour wins including double major success for Padraig Harrington.

But Darren Clarke will have to make a fast start to 2009 if he is to join Harrington, Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy in the Masters.

The Ulsterman needed to win the South African Open to finish the season inside the top 50 and secure his Masters invite.

Instead, he dropped two places to 70th in the world but still improved by 155 places this year thanks to wins in China and Holland.

Final World Rankings 2008
(31 Dec 2007 in brackets)
1 - Tiger Woods (1)
2 - Sergio Garcia (12)
3 - Phil Mickelson (2)
4 - Padraig Harrington (8)
Other Irish
33 - Graeme McDowell (106)
39 - Rory McIlroy (232)
70 - Darren Clarke (225)
90 - Gareth Maybin (534)
104 - Paul McGinley (207)
174 - Damien McGrane (320)
179 - Peter Lawrie (275)