Maguire chasing big weekend at CME Group Tour Championship

Adam McKendry
Maguire chasing big weekend at CME Group Tour Championship

Leona Maguire and Dermot Byrne discuss tactics at the Tour Championship (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Eight shots behind runaway leader Celine Boutier, it will need to be a huge weekend from Leona Maguire if she is to come from behind and claim the CME Group Tour Championship title.

The Cavan star was only able to record a one-under 71 in her second round in Naples, Florida to move onto six-under for the week, but that has her trailing Boutier by a considerable margin at the halfway stage of the LPGA Tour’s season-ending event.

The Frenchwoman made it back-to-back 65s at Tiburón Golf Club to sit at 14-under after just two rounds, already four shots clear of Gaby Lopez, Minjee Lee and Mina Harigae.

Maguire is aiming to finish her rookie season on a high, and currently sits just inside the top-20 on the leaderboard, but she will be aiming higher than her rather pedestrian second round.

Her first five holes were rather up-and-down, birdies coming at the first and third around bogeys on the second and fifth, before she settled into a consistent run of eight pars in a row.

Her par streak was broken by a birdie on the par-five 14th, but four more pars to finish her round did more harm than good, and the 26-year-old will need a phenomenal weekend if she is to somehow claim the Race to CME Globe title.

Maguire’s Solheim Cup team-mate Boutier is unquestionably in the driving seat in that regard, the 28-year-old shooting seven birdies in her final 10 holes in her second consecutive 65 at Tiburón to move into a comfortable lead.

After an opening eight holes that were bookended by a birdie at the first and a bogey at the eighth, it looked like the three-time LPGA Tour winner wasn’t making any moves, until she caught fire from the ninth onwards.

“I started pretty well with a birdie on the first, and then after that it was kind of a little bit of a struggle, I would say. Not a struggle, but I just feel like I left a couple shots out there,” recalled Boutier.

“Then I managed to get a birdie on 9 which kind of got me going. My long game has been solid all day and I was really able to put it close, especially in the back (nine). And then I just was able to make some putts.

“It was just a really solid day all around.”

Behind her it looks like a race to finish second, with Lopez and Lee both carding 68s to reach 10-under alongside Harigae, who signed for a 69 in her second round in Naples.

Overnight leader Jeongeun Lee6 was only able to add a 71 on day two to sit in a share of fifth at nine-under, where she is joined by Georgia Hall, Eun-Hee Ji and World No.1 Nelly Korda.

Maguire will tee off her third round alongside So Yeon Ryu at 3:40pm Irish time on Saturday.

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