Leona Maguire looks to be in line for another rock-solid week, picking up where she left off last season after a moving day 71 in tough conditions saw the Cavan star break into the top-20 ahead of the final round of the Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Rio.
Maguire carded three birdies, including a precious ‘2’ at her penultimate hole having dropped shots at 10 and 11 to move to two-under par for the tournament and into a tie for 17th.
It leaves Maguire nine shots behind Lydia Ko who ground out an even par 72 to hold a two-shot lead at 11-under par ahead of round four with Maguire just one shot outside the current top-10 after a Saturday that saw players struggle in icy winds in Florida.
Having found just 9 of 18 greens in regulation, Maguire had her magic wand to thank for moving her up the leaderboard with just 26 putts required to get home in round three.
Unfortunately Stephanie Meadow needed five more putts in a birdie-less five-over round of 77 that leaves the Jordanstown pro outside the top-60 at five-over.
Ahead of Sunday’s final round, it’s Ko who holds the key after surviving a brutal moving day test.
“Going into today, I knew that it was going to be pretty difficult,” Ko said. “Playing in the wind, any sort of temperature, makes it a lot tougher, and I knew that today was going to be a little bit more of a grind. You have to be more focused and move on when you do make mistakes.
“Finishing with pars the last couple holes, I got away with it there. To finish even par after a tough day, I think it was a solid day in the office.”
Tonight in Boca Raton, she will look to collect a win in consecutive seasons for the first time since the 2015 and 2016 LPGA campaigns.
“It’s great to be back in contention. I played really solid and consistent, especially in the back half of my season last year,” said Ko, who earned 11 top-10 finishes across 20 starts in 2021. “When you keep putting yourself there, you feel like at one point it’s going to fall. I’m playing alongside the best female golfers and some of the best athletes in the world, so it’s not easy.”
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