First LPGA victory within touching distance for Leona Maguire

Adam McKendry
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First LPGA victory within touching distance for Leona Maguire

Leona Maguire (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)

Leona Maguire admits that last year she got in her head too much about breaking her duck on the LPGA Tour, but that this year she’s taking a more relaxed approach to contending late in tournaments – starting with the final round of the LPGA Drive On Championship.

The Cavan woman takes a share of the lead into the final day in Fort Myers, Florida alongside American Alex Marina after a seven-under 65 on day two took her to 13-under, a score which has the pair four clear of Brittany Altomare, Stacey Lewis and Linnea Johansson.

Maguire continued her excellent form with a bogey-free round on Friday, including picking up three consecutive shots at the 11th, 12th and 13th and finishing her round with a birdie on the par-five 18th to carry some momentum into the final round.

On this form, the 27-year-old will be tough to beat, and the Solheim Cup star has revealed that a new thought process when competing late in tournaments will hopefully stand her in better stead than when she fell away when competing last season.

“I think last year maybe I tried to chase things a little bit too much, put a bit too much pressure on myself, tried to force things a little bit,” revealed Maguire.

“Lydia (Ko) said last week, if you knock on the door enough times eventually it’ll open. I’m adopting that same mentality, putting myself in these positions. Put a lot of work in over the off-season too, and it’s nice that it’s paying off this early in the season.

“More of the same (tomorrow), I think. Just staying patient, take my chances where I get them, hit lots of fairways, lots of greens, and hopefully the putter behaves tomorrow.

“If it does, great. If not, no big deal. We still have a long year ahead of us.”

After an average week by her standards last week at the Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Rio, Maguire admits she feels more “comfortable” this week at Crown Colony and it certainly showed in her scoring.

After birdies at the fourth, sixth and ninth on her front nine, she sparked into life with three straight birdies on 11, 12 and 13, and she finished in style with a further birdie to set the clubhouse target, which was later matched by first round leader Marina after she carded a 66.

“Just been playing really solid, taking advantage of the shorter holes. My wedges have been really dialed in. Just staying really patient. I think that’s been the theme of the last two weeks in general with the wind we’ve been getting,” added Maguire.

“Taking your chance where you get them, taking the pars on the tougher holes playing into the wind. Sort of coming down the stretch 14, 15, 16, were a grind back into the wind, but felt like I had put myself in a good position early on to sort of relax on the last few holes.”

With Irish golf excelling on both US coastlines, Maguire was quick to add her support for Seamus Power, who leads the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am by five shots at the halfway stage. An Irish double would be something sweet to savour.

“It’s incredible. Seamus is probably the most in-form golfer apart from Viktor Hovland on the planet right now. It’s incredible to see him doing so well,” she praised.

“We’ve kind of been going back and forth a little bit last year. He was doing well when I was doing well. He got his first win out there, which was huge for him. I mean, the more Irish people that are doing well the better.

“It’s great to see him doing well, and hopefully I can sort of keep up with him.”

Meanwhile, Jordanstown’s Stephanie Meadow couldn’t claw back her first round deficit and make the weekend as four birdies and three bogeys led him to a one-under 71 but at level-par for the week she fell one shot shy of the cut mark.

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