Maguire makes bright start with opening 67 at Tour Championship

Adam McKendry

Leona Maguire (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Leona Maguire took to Twitter to declare herself “happy” with her opening round at the CME Group Tour Championship after a five-under 67 in Naples, Florida.

However, the Cavan woman will surely harbour some frustrations after she began her round with four straight birdies but was only able to go one shot lower for her remaining 14 holes.


Instead, she only added a bogey at the ninth and then a superb eagle at the 17th to finish the opening day in a share of 14th, eight shots back of early leader Jeongeun Lee6.

The Korean was bogey-free for her round and finished in style with four birdies in her last five holes to hold a one-shot advantage over Jennifer Kupcho, Celine Boutier, Mina Harigae and Sei Young Kim.

With all Race to CME Globe points totals having reset for the final event of the year, Lee6 is in the driving seat to claim the order of merit title, however there are 13 players all within two shots after the opening round.

Maguire, three back, will certainly still consider herself in the mix, although she will need to find more consistency after she failed to capitalise on an incredible start that had her tied for the lead after just four holes.

The Slieve Russell ace took advantage of the benign conditions at Tiburón Golf Club to reel off the four straight birdies to begin, but her momentum stalled, especially when her next scoring hole was a bogey at the ninth.

But after finding the par-five 17th in two, she capitalised by rolling in the 15-footer for eagle, which will be a massive confidence booster heading into Friday.

“I got off a really fast start this morning and birdied my first four holes, which was really nice. I holed a couple of good putts and hit some good shots in,” said Maguire, who was playing alongside second-placed Boutier.

“Conditions were pretty much perfect for scoring with no wind and some of the tees pushed up, so you had to make as many birdies as you could.

“I stalled for a bit on the back nine, but it was nice to get that eagle coming in. You really have to take advantage today because it seems like everyone is going low pretty much. Celine was in the lead and playing some pretty nice golf, so it was just a case of trying to keep up with her as best I could.”

Boutier, a fellow Duke alumnus, had been in a share of the lead and would eventually sign for a bogey-free seven-under 65, but that would be eclipsed by Lee6’s excellent 64.

The former US Open champion was ticking along nicely having birdied four of her first 11 holes, but it was a fantastic finish that got her to the top of the leaderboard on her own, birdies dropping at 14, 16, 17 and 18 to pull her one clear of the chasing pack.

“I had a good time today. My goal was bogey-free so, yeah, I achieved it,” said a happy Lee6.

“And then my feeling, my feel is getting better, so my goal is to win once this year, but unfortunately there’s just one tournament left. I’m going to try my best.”

Boutier is tucked in right behind her alongside US Ryder Cup stars Kupcho and Harigae, while Kim was the most aggressive golfer of the day as she carded nine birdies but two bogeys to sit one behind.

Despite Lee6’s lead, World No.1 Nelly Korda will likely still be considered the favourite as she is among an eight-strong group at six-under after a 66 that consisted of eight birdies and two bogeys in her opening round, just two back.

Maguire tees off at 4:45pm Irish time in her second round, paired with America’s Megan Khang, who also opened her tournament with a 67.

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