Maguire falls just shy of miracle comeback at IOA Invitational

Leona Maguire (Photo by Kelly Defina/Getty Images)

Leona Maguire was left to reflect on an unlikely playoff near-miss after the Cavan star fired a stunning bogey-free six-under par 67 to claw her way to the top of the board at the Symetra Tour’s IOA Invitational.

Maguire, who’s been riding the quest of a wave since securing her maiden Tour win last month, found herself part of a four-way decider for the title alongside Maria Parra (Guadiaro, Spain), Madison Pressel (Boca Raton, Florida) and Ssu-Chia Cheng (Taipei, Chinese Taipei) having started the final round seven shots back.

“If you would have told me this morning I would be in a playoff after being seven shots back at the start of the day, it was just a bonus,” said Maguire who returned rounds of 66 & 68 on Monday to qualify for her first professional Major – the US Women’s Open set to be played in Charleston later this month.

In sudden-death, Parra, Pressel and Maguire each managed birdie on the first extra hole, while Cheng found the water hazard leading to her elimination. The three remaining individuals played No. 18 two more times with a birdie result each round. Following three trips down the par-5, the rotation between No. 1 and No. 18 began.

Again, birdie was carded by everyone in the trio at the par-4 1st, so it was back to No. 18 and the fifth hole of the sudden-death playoff proved to be the deciding factor as Parra captured her first Symetra Tour title with an eagle to outlast Pressel and Maguire.

“I was pretty tired coming into this week, so just wanted to try and play some solid golf,” added Maguire after an exhausting battle. “Maria played some incredible golf in the playoff and I couldn’t really do much more than that. I think we put a show on for the people still here. They weren’t easy holes, but I guess we made it look easier. But I’m happy going into next week, back close to where I went to college at Duke.”

Fellow beaten playoff participant Pressel was another quick to laud praise on the winner with he pair, and indeed all the women on the Symetra Tour sharing a common target.

“I played with Maria today and so we both got to watch each other play well,” said Pressel, who fired a 2-under par in the final round. “We’re with the same girls every week and want each other to do well. We are all trying to make it to the LPGA and I want that competitive fire between us, so we can be friendly and still cheer each other on to do the best they can.

“I think that’s what is so cool about the Symetra Tour—we truly do care and want our friends to do well, the other girls to play good golf too. It not only does great things for the Tour and people watching, but grows the game in general.”

For Parra, it was just a matter of time before she stepped into the winner’s circle on the Symetra Tour, having played the weekend in all five starts this season prior to teeing it up at Atlanta National Golf Club. The 21-year-old Spaniard carded a final round 2-under par before clinching victory on the fifth extra hole.

“It feels really good and I played great on this course,” said Parra, who recorded an eagle, nine birdies and four bogeys over her final 23 holes. “I hit a lot of fairways, greens and chipped really good. It was a pleasure to win here, course was in great condition and I’m just so happy. I hit my ball for eagle a few times then finally I made it and all my friends supported me the whole week. I’m so happy.”

The win is the first on the Symetra Tour by a player from Spain since Celia Barquin Arozamena was killed last September on a golf course in Ames, Iowa as she prepared for the LPGA Qualifying Tournament. A former teammate and friend to many on the “Road to the LPGA,” it’s no coincidence Parra’s victory falls on the same day Barquin Arozamena would have walked at Iowa State University commencement.

“We were great friends, teammates in Spain and lived together for two years,” Parra said with a smile. “She helped me on the course, for sure I know that. I know she is proud of me now.”

 

VOLVIK RACE FOR THE CARD STANDINGS AFTER WEEK SIX

Following the sixth tournament of the 2019 Symetra Tour season, the Volvik Race for the Card welcomes a fresh top-10.

The victory and $22,500 winner’s check move Maria Parra up 23 spots to No. 3, having earned $30,345 across six starts this season. Here is a look at the current top-10 heading into the eighth annual Symetra Classic at River Run Country Club in Davidson, N.C. from May 15-17:

1. Julieta Granada (Asuncion, Paraguay) – $49,790
2. Leona Maguire – $47,540

  1. Maria Parra – $30,345
    4. Jillian Hollis(Rocky River, Ohio) – $28,436
    5. Cydney Clanton(Concord, North Carolina) – $27,650
    6. Kelly Tan (Batu Pahat, Malaysia) – $26,180
  2. Lauren Coughlin(Charlottesville, Virginia) – $25,321
    8. Ssu-Chia Cheng – $22,349
    9. Madison Pressel – $21,737
    10. Dewi Weber (Groningen, Netherlands) – $20,921

Full Scoring HERE