Leona Maguire believes a repeat performance of her ball-striking in round two of the ISPS HANDA World Invitational at Massereene will have her in with a shout of a second LPGA Tour title over the weekend.
The Cavan woman backed up her opening 68 at Galgorm with a three-under 69 at Massereene on day two as she combined four birdies with one bogey to reach eight-under-par for the tournament.
That has her three shots back of leader Amanda Doherty, the American posting a five-under 67 at Massereene to open up a comfortable gap over Maguire, Peiyun Chien and former Open champion Georgia Hall, who had a hole-in-one playing alongside Maguire.
But after being disappointed with how she hit the ball in her first round, Maguire was much happier with her overall performance on day two and she is confident that if she can do that again over the weekend then she will give herself a big chance to win on home soil.
“I hit the ball a lot nicer today, gave myself lots of chances, and overall pretty happy. Could have holed a few more putts coming in, but three-under round Massereene, I’m pretty happy with that,” said the 27-year-old.
“I think if I hit it the way I hit it today, should be in good shape heading to Galgorm. Just try and go low over the weekend.”
Starting her second round at the 10th at Massereene, Maguire was quickly under-par with a birdie at her opening hole, and she added two more at the 14th and 16th to keep in touch with Doherty who, on the other side of the course, had also started strongly.
A beautiful 9-wood at the sixth nearly set up an eagle at the par-five for the World No.17 but she settled instead for a birdie, however there will be a slight frustration that she dropped one shot coming in after a bogey at the par-three eighth.
That means she has some work to do to claw back the deficit to Doherty, the LPGA rookie continuing her impressive start to the week with five birdies on her front nine to reach the turn in 11-under-par, and if she had kept up that scoring on the back nine then she might be out of sight already.
As it was, a bogey at the par-three 11th was cancelled out by a birdie at the par-four 13th in a 67 that makes her the only player in double figures on either side of the field, and she’s loving looking at the leaderboards around the course.
“It’s really nice to see my name up there. Haven’t been up there in little while,” said the 24-year-old, who is ranked 211th in the world.
“I had been feeling like my game was trending in the right direction, making a few tweaks here and there. From the outside looking in you might not see that score-wise, but I’ve been feeling like it’s going the right direction, so it’s nice to really kind of confirm that.
“Just putts were going in today. I mean, I was hitting the ball well to get it close enough for them to go in, but they were just falling in, and that was definitely the best part of my game on the front nine. And then tried to hang on on the back.”
Hall holed out with a pitching wedge at the 132-yard par-three third on her way to a 69 of her own to match Maguire at eight-under-par in a tie for second, with the pair joined by Taipei’s Chien, who had six birdies and one bogey in a 67.
Sweden’s Linn Grant, the Scandinavian Mixed champion and the final player in Maguire and Hall’s three-ball, stayed in contention as a three-under 69 took her to six-under-par alongside the USA’s Lauren Stephenson and Scotland’s Gemma Dryburgh.