Gareth Maybin retires
 Gareth Maybin. Image/BBC

Gareth Maybin. Image/BBC

Former Alabama State University and Ballyclare star Gareth Maybin has retired from professional golf at the age of 36.

Winner of the North of Ireland Amateur Championship in 2002, he excelled on the Hooters Tour, earned his Challenge Tour card on invitations in 2007 and went on to win the Qingdao Golf Open on the Challenge Tour the following year, graduating to the European Tour.

He played six full seasons on the main tour and competed in The Open twice as well as the 2010  US Open before losing his card in 2014, then suffered a wrist injury in 2015 and relapsed on his return this year.

In announcing his decision to move on, Maybin admitted in a statement that the last few years had been challenging 

"After a lot of consideration and thought, due to my ongoing wrist injury I have decided to retire from golf," Maybin said in a statement on Twitter. 

"The past few years have been challenging and allowed me to put a lot of things into perspective. I would like to say a massive thank you to everyone who has supported me throughout my career it has meant a lot. Any fun jobs out there for a retired golfer??!!"

The Ballyclare man amassed career winnings of €2,378,614 on the European Tour between 2008 and 2015.

He told the Belfast Telegraph:

"My wrist has been in a bad place for a couple of years,

"It became frustrating when I went to tournaments and couldn't compete because my injury meant I couldn't play to the standard that I knew I was capable of.

"I have a young family and when you go away and have to pull out of tournaments you start to think 'what's the point here?' I'd be thinking I have two little children at home and my wife who I'd rather spend time with, so deciding to retire was a combination of factors.

"I have had three surgeries already and I needed another one. A specialist told me it would be pretty major surgery. It involved breaking a bone and shortening the bone and then putting a plate and a pin in, so it was at least another year out and I couldn't see myself staying out for another year, hence the decision."

 including Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson and Ernie Els and other top stars."

On four-time major winner McIlroy, recently married to Erica Stoll, Maybin said: "Rory is a class act. You get a lot at the top of their sport who are great athletes but maybe not the nicest of people, but he seems to have it all. He is a great player and a genuinely nice guy and I feel he can go from strength to strength, win more majors and play for as long as he wants."

What next for Gareth, an intelligent and articulate guy?

"I would be interested in getting a job involved in sport. I'm not too sure if it will be golf or something else," said Maybin, who in 2002 took up a scholarship studying Sports Management at the University of South Alabama.

"My real passion is football. Golf was always something I was good at but football was my sporting love and Linfield's my team.

"We have the Irish Cup final next weekend and are going for the title this weekend. Hopefully we will win both. I'll be at the final at Windsor to support the Blues and am really looking forward to it."