Leona Maguire was happy after claiming her best career finish at a Major as the Slieve Russell professional finished in a tie for 15th in the KPMG Women’s PGA at Atlanta Athletic Club.
Maguire carded three birdies in her closing 71 to finish on four-under-par which earned her $58,839 and leaves her in 14th spot on the season-long Race to CME Globe standings.
“At the start of the week, I didn’t think it was a golf course that suited me all that well. So I am quite proud of how I hung in all week. I hit fairways and tried to hit greens and take my chances where I got them,” Maguire reflected.
“I felt like I stuck to that game plan and played really solid all week. I was very disciplined, went at pins that I could go at and played smart at other holes. I only put one ball in the water this week, which I felt was good. Overall to have had a total under par around this golf course is something I’m happy with.
“You had to be so patient on this golf course. The leaders are shooting some incredible scores, but for me it was kind of hanging in there, taking the chances when I got them. If I could have holed a few more putts could have been a bit better, but overall happy with how I played, and I think it might be my best major finish so far, so yeah, progress.”
Maguire had her twin sister Lisa out with her for the past few weeks and with her coach Shane O’Grady back in Ireland, it was no harm having an extra pair of eyes to watch over her swing during another big week in a season of so many.
“It’s definitely been really nice to have her here,” said Leona. “She knows my game just as well as me. I was struggling with my driver a little bit some of the practice days, and she pointed out my alignment was a bit off, so we worked a little bit on that on the driving range, which is a simple thing, but yeah, really great to have her here.
“She’s going home at the weekend. Yeah, she hadn’t been out since Australia of last year, so it’s been a break, so I think she enjoyed getting away from home for a little bit out to the sun, and it was fun for me having her here.”
At the top, Nelly Korda completed her sixth victory on the LPGA by claiming the KMPG Women’s PGA Championship and in doing so, she reached No. 1 in the Rolex Rankings.
“That has a lovely ring to it, not going to lie,” Korda said when she was introduced to the media as a major champion. “It’s been amazing, honestly,” she said after backing up last week’s victory at the Meijer Classic with the biggest triumph of her career.
“The past few days, the battle with Lizette, it’s been a lot of fun,” she said. “It’s been stressful. I think it’s had everything. But I just can’t believe it. I’m still in shock.”
The stage was set for a Korda and Lizette Salas showdown as they began tied at 15-under par, five strokes ahead of Patty Tavatanakit, Celine Boutier and Giulia Molinaro and it remained a two-woman tussle all day but Nelly’s power ultimately won the day.
Fuelled by a pair of eagles, Korda closed with a 68 to finish 19-under-par 269 while Salas posted a 71 to be at 272. Molinaro and Hyo Joo Kim tied for third at 278 while Tavatanakit and 2017 Women’s PGA champion Danielle Kang were at 280. Boutier and Austin Ernst finished at 281 with Amy Yang, Cydney Clanton and Xiyu Lin at 282.
“I pretty much dominated a lot of the par-5s,” Korda said. “I hit the ball really well, putted my putts. I just honestly — everything was on, and when you look back on weeks like this, it’s really special, and you don’t take it for granted. I’m really grateful for all the work and for my family constantly pushing me.”