Putting was the order of the day for Leona Maguire and she was pleased to grind out a five-under 67 on the opening day of the KPMG Women’s Irish Open after admitting she wasn’t at her best in Dromoland Castle.
It doesn’t feel like it after everything she has achieved over the last twelve months, but this was Maguire’s professional debut in her home open and she got off to an inauspicious start with an opening bogey after her approach flew the first green.
A welcome birdie on the par-3 3rd steadied the ship before she fell the wrong side of par with a dropped shot on the fifth in what was a sluggish opening.
But the Cavan native was deadly with the putter and held over 70-feet of putts on just the front nine alone, rolling in three successive birdies on the sixth, seventh and eighth holes to stamp her authority as the star turn this week.
Once again it was a rather lukewarm opening to her back nine for the 27-year-old but three birdies in her last four holes turned an average round into a good one and she moved to within two of Sweden’s Lina Boqvist and Alexandra Swayne of the Virgin Islands.
“Yeah it was a little scrappy in places today, didn’t drive the ball as well as I would have liked but putted really nicely. The greens were rolling really well considering all the rain and an afternoon tee time so yeah just rolled it really well today, took advantage of the shorter holes and you really have to take advantage of those few coming in so nice to birdie three of the last four and give some momentum going into tomorrow.
“I didn’t have my best game today but you can always save it when you putt well and I’ll get the driving straightened out this evening and go again tomorrow.
“Golf is all about momentum it doesn’t take much for to go a bounce here or there and a putt here or there so it was nice to get three birdies in a row on the front nine and hopefully the putter will stay warm for the rest of the week.”
Maguire’s struggles off the tee could have easily been forgiven having travelled through four different time zones before arriving on Monday but she is sure her body will be in check over the weekend.
“I feel good, shooting under par helps, trying to do my very best this week, going to bed early trying to get up early but yeah I’m still not sure what time it is or where I am but we’ll be good for the weekend.”
Maguire is undoubtedly the headline act, the world class draw this week and she has the opportunity to etch her name alongside legends like Padraig Harrington, Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry as golfers who have won their home open.
Those chances became even more realistic after her splendid finish on Thursday evening making her an ominous force at the upper echelon of the leaderboard, but she isn’t getting ahead of herself.
“To win your national open is a big honour. Probably just below the majors I’d say. Rory has done it Shane has done it Pádraig has done it so it would be nice to give the home fans something to cheer about come Sunday but there’s a long way to go yet.”
“There’s a good mix of holes out there, some really good chances it’s a bit shorter than what we play on the LPGA they moved a few tee boxes around which was a little surprising but you have to deal with whatever is in front of you whether it’s the weather or a different golf course so just enjoy it as much as you can.
Several tee boxes were moved up in response to the biblical overnight rain and the anticipated prevailing wind. Tee boxes on 14, 15 and 18 in particular were moved up while the wind switched making them play downwind and very vulnerable.
Maguire drove the par-4 15th with a 3-wood as did her playing partners Catriona Matthew and Anna Pelaez Trivino before two-putting from the back edge.
“Those sort of holes you have to take advantage of, it would have been nice to get the eagle but we’ll take birdie.”
She then held a 17-footer for back-to-back birdies on 18 before two-putting from 30-feet on the par-5 18th for a closing birdie.
“That was a five hybrid into 18, they moved that tee way up so 182. A completely different angle off the tee so it was trusting the yardage book and Dermot’s line on the tee shot that we could go way more right than we had been.”