Leona Maguire enjoyed her best Major performance of her career to date after a superb weekend’s golf at the ANA Inspiration in California.
After getting her championship into gear with a four-under par 68 on moving day, the Cavan professional kept her foot to the floor around Mission Hills on Sunday, carding three birdies in a blemish-free closing 69 to reach six-under par for the tournament.
That proved good enough for a tie for 18th for Maguire who pocketed a cheque worth just shy of $40,000 for the effort while she also moves up to 53rd on the Race to CME Globe.
Given the Covid situation, Maguire has no card worries with her place on next season’s LPGA Tour secured but she’ll hope to continue this form to make a run at the world rankings, with a place on the Solheim Cup in 2021 surely in her thoughts already.
As for Ireland’s two other competing stars, sadly it proved a Sunday to forget for Stephanie Meadow who had played so well for three rounds at Rancho Mirage.
The Jordanstown professional carded five bogeys and had to wait until the 18th to pick up a first birdie on the day before signing for a four-over par 76, her plus-two total good enough for a share of 51st.
Completing the Irish trio, amateur Olivia Mehaffey, who made her first professional Major cut on Friday in California, signed for weekend rounds of 77 and 76 for a 13-over par tally.
A three-way playoff was needed to decide this year’s winner and it was Mirim Lee who earned the honour of a dip in Poppie’s Pond after a stunning performance.
Lee chipped in twice times to just to stay in the hunt for the title, while for all the world it seemed it would ultimately come down to Nelly Korda and Brooke Henderson out in front.
In the end, it was a temporary blue wall perched on 18 that provided the back-stop for Lee’s playoff push after her approach careered off it when headed straight for the drink. Sure enough, Lee chipped in for a third time, this time for eagle and a five-under 67. She wouldn’t look back after that, nailing a birdie at the first extra hole to claim the title.
“I must be a little crazy for winning,” Lee said.
Asked on television off the 18th green if she was in disbelief, Lee was too busy wiping away tears to answer, so the translator finally offered, “Yes.”
It’s Lee’s first major championship and the 29-year-old South Korean recognised the golfing gods helped her get there.
“I think I had a bit of luck that helped me,” she said.
With her win, Lee earns $465,000; she has earned $465,000 for the season and $4,667,546 for her career
Full scoring HERE