Maguire goes down fighting at Bank of Hope LPGA Match-Play

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Leona Maguire (Photo by Mike Comer/Getty Images)

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Leona Maguire just missed out on the last 16 of the LPGA Match-Play after losing on the final hole to veteran American Christina Kim in the final round-robin match at Shadow Creek.

The Cavan professional had moved 2UP early with wins on the third and fourth holes but Kim clawed her way back to level before Maguire won the ninth with par to head into the homeward half 1UP.  Kim birdied 11 and 13 to really pour the pressure on and when Maguire bogeyed 14, she found herself 2DOWN with four holes to play.

The 15th and 16th were halved in par before Maguire landed a birdie of her own with a brave 20-footer on the penultimate hole to get the match down 18 and although she was able to find another birdie in ‘4’ down the par-5 last, Kim put all her experience to use to match it, winning 1UP with a ‘4’ of her own. American Ally Ewing, who Maguire beat on the opening day, defeated Jennifer Kupcho in the other group match to advance to the knockouts on two points with Maguire left behind on 1.5.

Meanwhile, in a preview of September’s Solheim Cup, England’s Bronte Law took down three Team USA hopefuls to survive group play and reach the Round of 16 at Shadow Creek. Her 6&5 win on Friday over Annie Park was tied for the widest margin of victory on Friday, the final day of group play. After a tie with Amy Olson on Wednesday and a 2&1 win over Austin Ernst on Thursday, Law moved into the Round of 16 with a big statement that she’s ready to take on Team USA at Inverness Club.

“You still have to execute the shots, but obviously feeling that little bit of momentum shift is what you have to grab when you’re in match play,” said Law, who won eight of 13 holes in her match with Park. “I can sense it when it’s there. I think that’s one of the things that I like the most, it’s the quality that you kind of need to have in that situation.”

Law’s run against her American foes will continue on Saturday when she takes on Las Vegas’ own Danielle Kang. Kang handily beat her close friend Lizette Salas on Friday, winning the first hole to immediately grab a 1-up lead and cruising to a bittersweet 4&3 win.

“Of course I want to win whoever I’m playing, but it’s just different. It’s a different feeling, especially with Lizette,” said Kang, who has yet to trail in the competition. “Every time she missed a putt, any time she missed I’d go, ‘Oh, go in.’ My heart just kind of dropped because I don’t ever want her to miss putts. I’m not wishing that on her or anything.”

Kang is the only player who went 3-0-0 in the group-play format and with her hometown knowledge of Shadow Creek, she will be a formidable opponent for Law. But Law is a fiery competitor, particularly when a head-to-head win is at stake.

“She is American, so I’m running with that trend at the moment. Obviously, Danielle is one of the best players in the world, so there is nothing more to say than that,” added Law with a wry smile. “I’m still going to go out and play the game that I’ve been playing. I think when I’m on, I’m good enough to beat anyone. And if you can’t back yourself, then that’s all I can say.”

Unheralded American Jenny Coleman continued her lucky Vegas roll, draining a par putt on 18 in the day’s final match to tie with Ashleigh Buhai and reach the Round of 16. Coleman built a 3-up lead through six holes, but Buhai chipped away at the deficit and tied the match with a birdie at No. 11. Buhai nearly chipped in for birdie from the front of the green at 18 to force a playoff, but two pars gave the group victory to Coleman.

“We’d been back and forth all day hitting like good shot, getting rewarded, hitting a good shot, not getting rewarded. You name it, it could happen,” said Coleman, who will face Ally Ewing in the Round of 16. “Just being very patient and hoping you get a little luck.”

Six matches went to sudden-death playoffs to set Saturday’s match-play bracket. The longest playoff saw Jenny Shin knock out her fellow Las Vegas resident Alison Lee with a par on the fourth playoff hole. Anna Nordqvist made a two-putt par on the first playoff hole to eliminate No. 1 seed Jin Young Ko, after beating her by a 5-and-3 margin earlier in the day.

“I played really well this morning. She is a World No. 1, so I knew she was going to be a really tough match,” said Nordqvist. “Part of me felt like I didn’t have anything to lose because I knew I had to get my point to have a chance at a potential playoff, so just very proud of myself.”

With a par on the second playoff hole, Brittany Altomare reached the Round of 16 over Sei Young Kim, who won the 2017 Lorena Ochoa Match-Play and is the Tour’s most recent match-play winner.


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