Rookie star Gareth Maybin is the toast of his local boozer as he chases a champagne season on the European Tour
The Ulsterman, 28, got sponsorship from his pals at the Five Corners in Ballyclare when he was battling to make the breakthrough, as well as from the Team Ireland Golf Trust.
Four year later, Maybin is leading the race for Rookie of the Year honours on the European Tour after taking his season’s earnings to €204,053 thanks to his sixth place finish in Sunday’s Malaysian Open.
Grateful to his pals for their support when he needed it most, Maybin said: “Around ten guys put some money together so that I could use it if I needed it.
“I used to work in the restaurant there and they decided to sponsor me and help me get going out here. It is the same with Team Ireland, who have also helped me.
“I am able to stand on my own feet now but it is good to know that you have that support and I really appreciate all they have done for me.”
Maybin came close to grabbing his maiden win but bogeyed the last to finish sixth in Kuala Lumpur.
But his second top-10 of the year earned him a place in this week’s Johnnie Walker Classic in Perth and he’s hoping to ride his wave of form to victory.
Maybin said: "I was seriously considering returning home but I'm playing well and who's to say that I can't finish pretty high up again this week.”
Maybin got a €15,000 grant from the Team Ireland Golf Trust last year but like Michael Hoey, he didn’t need any help when €231,000 was split among 18 young guns yesterday.
Team Ireland grants 2009: Jonathan Caldwell €20,000, Martina Gillen €20,000, Rebecca Coakley €20,000, Tara Delaney €20,000, Michael McGeady €15,000, Alan Murray €12,000, Gareth Shaw €12,000, Colm Moriarty €12,000, Simon Thornton €12,000, Brian McElhinney €10,000, Peter O'Keeffe €10,000, Richard Kilpatrick €10,000, Hazel Kavanagh €10,000, Mark Campbell €7,000, Niall Turner €7,000, Paul O'Hanlon €7,000, Marian Riordan €7,000.