Maguire trailing by seven despite steady start in Thailand

Adam McKendry
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Maguire trailing by seven despite steady start in Thailand

Leona Maguire (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

Leona Maguire had perhaps the most uneventful bogey-free round to open the Honda LPGA Thailand as she carded just two birdies and 16 pars in a two-under 70 at Siam Country Club.

The Cavan ace began her round with a birdie at the par-five first and then added another shot at the par-three eighth but, aside from that, it was all steady as she goes, with her back nine consisting entirely of pars.

Her first round leaves Maguire down in a share of 42nd at the limited-field, no-cut event and already seven shots off the leaders, Australia’s Su Oh, Japan’s Nasa Hataoka and Germany’s Esther Henseleit, all of whom signed for nine-under 63s in Chonburi.

It was another frustrating day on this Asian swing for Maguire, who admitted that despite finishing 13th she never quite got going at last week’s HSBC Women’s World Championship, and her game is not traditionally suited to Siam Country Club.

The course is one that traditionally rewards bigger hitters, an area Maguire would not categorise herself in as she ranks just 58th in strokes gained off the tee on the LPGA Tour, but she was still able to keep the mistakes off her card.

The World No.19 had gotten off to a promising start when she birdied the first, taking advantage of the par-five, and although her momentum stalled with six straight pars after that she at least went into the back nine with confidence when another birdie arrived at the eighth.

But that was to be as good as it got – in either direction – for Maguire as ten straight pars saw her head back to the clubhouse in exactly the same score she’d turned in, and she already has a considerable gap to make up.

That’s because the leading trio were all in fine form on day one, all of them bogey-free and seeing nine birdie putts drop on their way to nine-under 63s that have them one shot clear of China’s Xiyu Lin after 18 holes.

Hataoka, ranked ninth in the world, looks particularly dangerous as she looks to recapture the form that saw her pick up two wins and a runner-up spot at the US Open last season, the 23-year-old stringing together five birdies in her last seven holes to share the lead.

Alongside her, Oh had a similar finish with three birdies in her last four to join her, while Henseleit had two separate runs of four and three consecutive birdie streaks to bring herself into the mix as well.

“It was really nice. I don’t think I’ve ever shot nine-under before… and I had like a four-footer down the hill left-to-right for par on the last and I was like, ‘come on’, because I think I shot plenty of eight-unders but not nine,” said Oh.

“I would have been so pissed off if I missed that. I would be so pissed off. But I’m very happy with how I played. Chipped in today as well, which was nice.”

Lin is their closest challenger as she also strung together a bogey-free effort, eight birdies contributing to an eight-under 64, with six players – including Brooke Henderson, Celine Boutier and Jennifer Kupcho  – a shot further back at seven-under.

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