A deflating run of bogeys on the back nine ruined Leona Maguire’s hopes of making a late push for the ShopRite LPGA Classic title as she fell down the leaderboard on the final day in New Jersey.
The Cavan woman had given herself an outside chance of challenging the leaders at Seaview after a front nine that included four birdies and one bogey, but she ran into trouble on the back nine and never recovered, eventually settling for a level-par 71 to stay five-under and finish in a tie for 34th.
Maguire had started the day six back of leaders Jin Young Kyo and Inbee Park and had brought herself within touching distance with her three-under front nine, but it all fell apart when she reached the 12th.
The PGA National Slieve Russell ace would have still needed a big back nine to lift the trophy, but instead she slumped to four bogeys in her next five holes to slowly slide back down the leaderboard, with a birdie on her final hole little consolation as her run of seven consecutive top-15 finishes on the LPGA Tour came to an end.
Maguire is still in pole position to be named Rookie of the Year though, and still has a credible claim for being named Player of the Year, and she will head to this week’s Cognizant Founders Cup aiming to push further up the Race to CME Globe standings from her current position of 13th.
It had looked like Sunday would be a two-horse race between Kyo and Park in New Jersey, but in the end both were beaten out by the stunning Celine Boutier, who stormed through the field with a bogey-free eight-under 63 on the final day to claim a one-shot win at 14-under.
The Frenchwoman was on song all day, bringing herself into contention with six birdies on her front nine alone, and she closed it out in style with birdies at the 16th and 18th to hold off the challenge of Canada’s Brooke Henderson and claim the clubhouse lead.
Both Kyo and Park had a chance to force a play-off if they birdied the final hole, a par-five, but neither was able to take advantage and Boutier was able to claim her second LPGA Tour win having already won the ISPS Handa Vic Open in 2019.
“It’s so different. It’s hard to compare them… the first one was very unexpected. I guess this one was too, in a different way. The first one was unexpected and so early into my career, I think it was my second year on tour,” she said.
“I think it’s been almost two years or two years and a half since my first win. You know, I know how hard it is to win. It just makes it so special. I’ve been trying really hard to get my second one. It’s hard to describe. Yeah, it’s hard to compare them, but they are both very special.
“It was such a surreal day. I just feel like this morning I just knew I was a couple shots back and I knew the course was scorable, so I knew I had to shoot a low score to even have a chance, and then after 18 I just knew I had left everything out on the course.
“I was already in my mind going into the playoff and having to prepare for that. And then just the fact that neither Jin Young or Inbee birdied 18 really left me, I don’t know, like kind of stunned. I’m still a little bit surprised about it.
“But it’s honestly been a great tournament. I played really solid from start to finish. Super happy with the way it ended obviously.”
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