Confidence was the buzzword for Leona Maguire after she moved just outside the top-10 at the halfway point of the Meijer LPGA Classic with a fine bogey-free four-under 68 in her second round in Belmont, Michigan.
The Cavan woman is building towards the third Major of the season next week, the KPMG PGA Championship, and as part of those preparations she will head into the weekend at Blythefield Country Club seven shots off leader Jennifer Kupcho looking to add to that confidence.
A second round that saw her fail to make a mistake after hitting 15 greens will have helped, with Maguire signing for four birdies on day two to sit seven-under-par for the tournament and, although she has a lot of ground to make up to Kupcho, there is a bigger plan in place.
“I gave myself a lot of chances today. I think it was a little easier this morning, not quite as windy as yesterday. It was pretty nice,” said Maguire.
“I was kind of hanging on yesterday, so didn’t quite take advantage of the par-fives as well as I would’ve liked. But had a nice birdie on 2 and that kind of got the round going.
“I think it’ll be a very different test next week at Congressional, but this week it’s about trying to go as low as possible. So it will be really good for dialling in the wedges and the irons, and ultimately it’s going to come down to who putts the best over the weekend.
“Heading into a Major, the better you’re putting, that can only be a good thing.”
The 27-year-old started day two well with a birdie at the par-four second and she backed that up with another at the par-five eighth, which will have pleased her no end, and she made it back-to-back nines of 34 with birdies at the par-three 11th and par-four 17th.
She will need to go low to catch Kupcho, though, as the Chevron Championship winner reached 14-under to open up a two-shot lead over World No.2 Nelly Korda after she backed up Thursday’s outstanding 63 with another bogey-free round, this time a five-under 67.
Despite having only returned from treatment for a blood clot in her arm, Korda navigated her way into contention with her own bogey-free offering, an eagle and five birdies leading to a 65 to move up to 12-under-par, with Spain’s Carlota Ciganda in third at 11-under after a 65.
Maguire will need a big moving day to manoeuvre her way into contention, but she will be pleased to end a run of four missed cuts in five starts at an event she is very familiar with having competed last year, while she has some home comforts cheering her on this week at Blythefield.
“It’s always nice having her out on the road,” grinned Maguire of having sister Lisa with her in Michigan. “She’s been out for a few weeks now, so this week and next week at KPMG she’ll be out. Having her walk along and supporting me is always a benefit.”
It wasn’t such a good day for Stephanie Meadow, however, as a two-over 74 led to her missing the two-under cut line after finishing at level-par for the week.
After starting the day two-under, the Galgorm woman posted three bogeys in her first 11 holes which meant that, despite a birdie giving her hope at the par-three 15th, she ultimately wasn’t low enough to stick around for the final two days.