Leona Maguire teed off her Ladies European Tour season much like she did her LPGA one – with a fast start at the Geoff King Motors Australian Ladies Classic Bonville.
The Cavan professional, who banked a top-5 finish on her LPGA Tour debut already this month, fired a four-under par round of 68 to sit just two shots back after the opening day at Bonville Golf Resort.
At minus-four, Maguire shares a tie for 8th place after Lauren Stephenson from South Carolina carded a six-under 66 to set the pace after round one.
Scotland’s Gemma Dryburgh, Finland’s Noora Komulainen, Australian Breanna Gill and Korean trio Min A Woon, Ayean Cho and Hye Ji Lee are a stroke off the lead after posting 67s in perfect scoring conditions on Thursday.
Stephenson teed off from the ninth hole and began her round with a fast start, carding birdies on four of her first six holes. The second-year LPGA player added three more birdies against one bogey.
“It was a great day. I had seven birdies and one bogey, where I missed a short putt. I made a lot of good putts on the other holes so I couldn’t be too upset about it,” Stephenson said of her round.
“The first nine holes are really scoreable so it’s important to get off to a great start. I made a birdie on my second hole and then just continued that and had three birdies in a row.
“The back nine was really important and it was great to go into the harder holes knowing that I had already had a couple of birdies.”
Stephenson spent last season as a rookie on the LPGA Tour. In 20 starts, the University of Alabama product made 11 cuts and produced one top-10, which was a tie for eighth in her first tournament, the ISPS Handa Vic Open in Australia. She ended the season ranked 85th on the Race to CME Globe.
This is her fourth week of competition in 2020, as she played in the Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Rio and tied for 35th, missed the cut in the ISPS Handa Vic Open and tied for 48th in the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open last week.
She said: “I love Australia. I’m super happy to be here for a month. I think I would move here if I didn’t live in the United States. The people are so nice and the golf is so fun. This course is extremely different to what we played the last two weeks in the Vic and Australian Opens, but this course is amazing. It’s nice to play something that’s more familiar to me, because my courses at home have a lot of grain and are similar to this style. I feel at home.”
16-year old Pia Babnik from Slovenia also impressed on debut with a two-under par bogey-free round of 70 to be inside the top-20 after day one.
Full scoring HERE