Maguire breaks 70 but Nasa shoots for the moon with 61 in Ohio

Leona Maguire (Photo by Jorge Lemus/NurPhoto)

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Leona Maguire opened with a fine two-under par 69 but she’ll be hoping the Marathon LPGA Classic lives up to its name after Nasa Hataoka sprinted clear with a 10-under par 61 on day one in Ohio.

Cavan professional Maguire carded three birdies and one bogey to sit in a tie for 27th overnight after a round where she found 15 of 18 greens in regulation but needed 31 putts. By contrast, Japanese star Hataoka found all 18 greens in reg and needed 26 putts as she moved four clear of the field and eight clear of Maguire.

Three-time LPGA winner Hataoka was on 59 watch before two closing pars leaving Annika Sorenstam as the only player to shoot 59 on the LPGA Tour, a feat she accomplished on her way to victory at the 2001 Standard Register PING at Moon Valley in Arizona.

“When I had my ninth birdie it kind of did come to my mind,” Hataoka said. “But then, after I only having two holes (left), I just thought how great Annika was more than me getting it.”

Unsurprisingly it was the 22-year-old’s lowest score on the LPGA Tour, beating a third-round 63 in her 2018 NWA Championship victory.

“I think what was really working is I was able to control my iron shots to make sure I could get close to the pin to get the birdies,” Hataoka added, who started on the back nine and had six birdies on the spin from the 15th to the second.

“I didn’t feel any pressure on myself or didn’t feel way good. Everything was just right at the centre, so I guess I would say it was the zone, yes. I was able to control everything.”

Lauren Stephenson was her closest challenger after a more than impressive 65. She also missed a chance to go lower on her final two holes, finishing with two pars on the par-5 17th and 18th.

“I took all of last week off,” Stephenson said. “I didn’t touch a club for eight days so I felt really just rest and recovered. I felt pretty tired at KPMG because that was my sixth week, so I knew I needed to just take a good break.”

Jordanstown professional Stephanie Meadow carded three bogeys and no birdies in an opening three-over 74 that leaves her battling to make the weekend cut.

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