Maguire moves up the gears quickly at LPGA Drive On Championship

Leona Maguire (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Leona Maguire’s hot start to the new season continued as she fired a three-under par 69 to make an early move at the LPGA’s Drive On Championship in Florida.

Fresh off a top-20 finish at last week’s Gainbridge LPGA, the Cavan professional recovered from a bogey at the third to pick up three birdies to the turn in two-under 34. Maguire dropped another shot at the par-4 11th but far from discouraged, she birdied her closing two holes for a three-under tally to be just two-shots back of the leaders in a share of sixth. In typical Maguire style, she needed just 26 putts to complete a fine opening day score, hitting 13 of 14 fairways but just 11 of 18 greens.

It was also a bright start for Stephanie Meadow who found 13 greens in reg on her way to a rock-solid one-under par 71. The Jordanstown professional traded three birdies with two bogeys to sits just inside the top-30 as she looks to bounce back from last week’s missed cut at Lake Nona at the first time of asking.

Meanwhile, Nelly Korda showed no signs of a hangover after her first LPGA Tour title on U.S. soil, outplaying her sister and the world’s No. 1 player for a five-under 67 to share the lead ahead of day two. Korda was joined by Jennifer Kupcho and Austin Ernst with all three carding 67’s at Golden Ocala.

The third-ranked Korda was part of a featured group that played early before the cool morning yielded to warm sunshine. She played alongside her older sister, Jessica, who had a 69; and Jin Young Ko, the No. 1 player in women’s golf who had a 75. Jessica Korda won a playoff to start the LPGA season at the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions. Nelly Korda had a three-shot victory last week in the Gainbridge LPGA at Lake Nona.

“I took Monday off, did laundry, drove up here, got tested,” said Nelly. “But I was actually really tired. I just played nine and nine. I just tried to keep it pretty simple and easy.

“I worked on my swing a little yesterday just because I wasn’t hitting it good. I think just being tired your swing is all over the place, so I tried to tighten up my swing. I hit it pretty solid today, so hopefully I can keep improving on that the next couple days.”

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