Meadow finishes strong to take 7th as Korda claims gold in Tokyo

John Shortt
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Meadow finishes strong to take 7th as Korda claims gold in Tokyo

Stephanie Meadow (Photo By Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

The final round of the Women’s Individual competition wasn’t without its drama as just when it got down to the medal deciding holes, the hooter sounded and play was suspended with three groups remaining out on the course.

The leader, Nelly Korda (USA) who had led by three shots at the start of the day was holding a slim one-shot advantage over Mone Inami (Japan) at the time with two holes remaining, while Aditi Ashok (India) and Lydia Ko (New Zealand) were tied for the bronze medal.

The players had an anxious wait before returning to the course which they did at around 5.15am Irish time when Korda went on to secure the gold with Inami taking silver in a play-off over Ko who added a bronze to her 2016 Olympic silver medal.

Team Ireland gave it their all on the final day, as they had on all the other days and Stephanie Meadow produced a courageous five-under par round which catapulted her into the top-10 to finish in 7th position on 12-under, just four shots off the medal places.

Meadow kicked off her final round with six pars before birdies on the 7th and 8th got her to nine-under par and within sight of the leaders.

The Jordanstown native, who holed a 25ft putt on the 12th hole of her opening round to stop her from going to four-over par at the time, clearly enjoyed the closing stretch of holes each day – 12-under for the closing seven holes over the four rounds, adding another three birdies on this stretch in the final round.

“It’s funny to look back on that point, that putt goes in and all of a sudden I’m 12-under so it’s been a great week,” said Meadow who holed a 15-footer on the 18th green to finish the tournament on 12-under. “I’ve played some really good golf over the last few days. I’m really happy with that and just overall to finish top-10 in the Olympics which is something I’ll cherish forever.”

Meadow had struggled to find her form in the early part of the season, but a top-30 finish at the Evian Championship and now a top-10 at the Olympics has given her a much-needed boost.

“It’s an interesting mentality here, there’s no cut and all you think about is getting a medal so I think I might take some of that and set the sights higher and kind of focus on that and let nothing else slow you down. That’s something I’ve learned from this week and hope to take on to the next coming weeks.”

Meanwhile, Leona Maguire didn’t have the final round she would have wished for but also finished her Olympic bid on a high as she was 3-under for her final 9 holes having dropped out of contention in the early stages. Never a player to give up easily, she was determined to finish as high as possible on the leaderboard and ended her Olympic campaign tied for 23rd.

“I mean, I think it’s a week of what could have been,” said Maguire who reached 8-under par during her third round yesterday.

“There were flashes of medal golf in there, just not enough of it. I’ll take the positives from it, I played a great front 9 yesterday and a great back 9 today. I kind of got it going on the back today, I figured out a few things with my driver. I just didn’t drive the ball well enough this week, got on the wrong side of a few slopes and things like that. It was a week of near misses and what could have been, but at the same time hung in well to still post a score.

“It’s not going to be your week every week,” she continued, “But at the same time I’ll finish 20-something out of the best field in golf so. It’s still early on in my LPGA career, I’ll learn what I can from this week and take it into the next two weeks.

“Getting to be here and be part of the Olympic Games is a highlight for me and being able to call myself a two-time Olympian is something I’ll look back on a few years from now.

“We’ve two big weeks coming up with the Scottish and Open and I haven’t played links golf since this time last year in Troon. Carnoustie will be a good test so I’m looking forward to that, and it will be nice to get out of this heat.”

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