Leona Maguire was pleased she was able to show the potential she felt she had all week in the final round of the AIG Women’s Open as she secured the best Major finish of her career at Muirfield.
The Cavan woman carded an eagle and three birdies in a bogey-free five-under 66 on Sunday to end the tournament in a tie for fourth at seven-under-par, her third top-eight finish in her last seven Major starts.
Maguire hit 16 of 18 greens in her final round, and had her putter been slightly hotter then she potentially could have challenged at the top as she finished just three shots behind eventual winner Ashleigh Buhai, who defeated In Gee Chun in a play-off.
But the European Solheim Cup hero was pleased with how she rounded off her week in Scotland, admitting that had she been better on the greens then she could have potentially been in the mix for a first Major title.
“Overall, bogey-free, five-under and in the last round of Major, I think these conditions were possibly the toughest of the four days. It was windy from the get-go. So that was kind of the potential I knew was in there all week, and nice to sort of finish it off today,” said Maguire.
“Always nice to finish strong in the last round of a Major, bogey-free. Felt like I kept it out of the fairway bunkers this week, and didn’t hit it in a single fairway bunker. Drove it as well as I’ve probably drove it in a while.
“If I had had my week on the greens, things could have been a lot different.”
A quick start saw Maguire, who started the day just inside the top-20, card a birdie at the par-three fourth and then back it up with her eagle at the par-five fifth, and she then started the back nine with birdies at the 11th and 13th.
However, she couldn’t find another couple of birdies to set a competitive total and instead had to settle for her best Major finish of her career, which she no doubt will have gladly taken at the start of the day.
Meanwhile, a dramatic final day saw Buhai look well on her way to her maiden Major title as the South African, who led by five shots overnight at 14-under-par, held a three-shot lead going down the stretch despite two bogeys and a birdie.
Closest challenger Chun seemed to have blown her chance with two bogeys in the first three holes of the back nine, but she parred her way in to set the target at 10-under-par, and that would be enough to tie Buhai, who triple-bogeyed the par-four 15th just when it seemed like nobody could catch her.
That forced a play-off and, after the pair parred the 18th the first three times around, Chun found a fairway bunker which led to a bogey, while Buhai produced a stunning sand save for par to clinch the title.