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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Maguire hoping to put herself in winning position at LA Open

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Fresh off securing her best LPGA Tour finish with a tied-second result in Hawaii on Saturday, Leona Maguire returns to competition later today [Wednesday] at the LA Open, looking to kick on at Wilshere Country Club.

This week marks another new venue for Maguire in what’s technically her Rookie season after everyone’s status was frozen last year. The Cavan professional has played like anything but a novice, however, dropping just two shots over four rounds last week at Kapolei in a mature performance that was only outdone by former world number one Lydia Ko.

Put up this week in nice digs courtesy of her Modest! Golf team just 15 minutes from the course, Maguire is hoping to pick up where she left off in Hawaii, determined to go one place better despite recognising that she’s still very much learning on the job in her first full season on the top-tier of the women’s game.

“I’ve been ringing home, talking to Dad and talking to Shane [O’Grady – coach] and I’ve felt it’s been close for a few weeks now,” Maguire said. “I’m just trying to get that little bit better every week. Putting myself in those positions, in those last few groups.

“In Ocala I played with Nelly Korda in the last groups. On Saturday I was in the second last group with all the TV stuff and cameras around so I’m just getting used to those situations. I put myself in those positions at the ANA on the second and third day and didn’t cope with it as well as I would’ve like but I learned a lot from that and took it into Hawaii.

“It’s still technically my rookie year out here so I’m still trying to pick things up as I go along. And it’s not easy to win out here. You see a player as good as Lydia Ko and it’s taken her nearly three years to win again and she’s been playing some incredible golf. It’s going to take four low rounds to win one of these but I’m going to try and keep putting myself in as many positions as I can to get it done.”

Between Covid restrictions and a busy playing schedule, the proud Irishwoman has spent more time away from home than she would’ve liked of late but Maguire also revealed she expects to be fully vaccinated next week, hopeful of returning home to see family, and her coach, ahead of what promises to be a packed, but most exciting summer schedule.

“This is week 12 of 12 coming up here,” Maguire added. “It was a little bit of a panic there when I saw the US getting added to the quarantine list but hopefully being fully vaccinated by the time I’m planning to come home will make things a little easier and I’ll be able to see Shane.

“I haven’t seen Shane since I left in January – we’ve just been communicating over video and trying to keep an eye on things. I know Shane Lowry has had his team over and back but I haven’t had the privilege of that so it would be nice to see them again.”

Before any homecomings, the 26-year old also has the small matter of a US Open qualifier to come on Monday after narrowly missing out on the year’s second Major due to an unfortunate deadline.

“I’ve a US Open qualifier on Monday – I missed the cut-off for the US Open by three days,” Maguire laughed.

“If it had fallen after this event I would’ve been in! I’ll go to that US Open qualifier and then go home for two and a half weeks hopefully and back out again there for a busy stretch that will hopefully include a few Majors right the way through the summer and I probably won’t be home before the Olympics.”

Maguire tees off at 3.48pm Irish time today [Wednesday]. Stephanie Meadow joins her in the field. The Jordanstown professional gets underway at 9.54pm.

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