Sweden’s Joel Sjohom leads the Italian Open after an opening 64 in Turin. Picture: Fran Caffrey/www.golffile.ieGareth Maybin gave himself an early 32nd birthday present when he fired a six-under par 66 to share third place behind leader Joel Sjoholm in the BMW Italian Open in Turin.

The Ballyclare player, who celebrates his birthday today, credited new coach Johnny Foster with some recent encouraging form and hopes to build on his opening effort as he bid to secure his card for 2013.

“It was really good,” Maybin told European Tour Radio’s Nick Dye after carding seven birdies and one bogey. “I putted really well, which was nice. If I tidy up a few loose ends I should be right there. I holed two or three big ones and holed out very well, which was encouraging

“The birdie on the par-five fifth, where I holed from the back edge of the green, was nice. Starting on the back nine, which is the tougher of the two nines, I got through that one under and just said to myself there are plenty of chances on this last nine and I managed to take a few.

“The greens aren’t as good in the afternoon as they’ll be tomorrow morning but it was nice to post a score on them and hopefully get the best of them tomorrow.”

Swede Sjoholm shot an eight under 64 to lead by one from England’s Lee Slattery with Maybin in a six-man tied for tied for third as Ryder Cup players Francesco Molinari (68), Martin Kaymer (70) and Nicolas Colsaerts (71) endured contrasting days.

Maybin, who ended a nightmare run of six missed cuts on the trot in the KLM Open last week, had just 26 putts on an inspired day on the greens in the tougher afternoon conditions.

But it’s a return to working with fellow Ballyclare man Johnny Foster that he believes has made the biggest difference.

“The form has been okay for the last month,” Maybin said. “Obviously before that it was pretty poor but I have been working with a new coach in Johnny Foster and it seems to have turned a bit of a corner.

“It’s probably just getting back to what I used to do and what I used to do was alright. So I am just trying to refine it a little bit.”

Shane Lowry and Peter Lawrie shot two under 70s with Michael Hoey posting a 71 and Simon Thornton a 72.

Kells’ Damien McGrane could only manage a 73 and with the leading 65 and ties at two under par, all bar Maybin have work to do to make the cut.