Leona Maguire credited an improved putting performance as six birdies in her first nine holes catapulted her up the leaderboard and into contention at the Pelican Women’s Championship.
Maguire shot a six-under-par 64 to join Stephanie Meadow on five-under and five adrift of leader Allisen Corpuz.
It was normal service resumed for Maguire on the greens after a frustrating opening round as she opened her round with back-to-back birdies. A third birdie of the day on 5 was followed by three successive birdies to close out a front nine of 29.
The Cavan native’s only blemish was a double-bogey on the par-3 12th but she cancelled it out with birdies on 14 and 18.
“Just figured out how to putt again I think. I hit the ball great yesterday. Gave myself so many chances. I just didn’t hole any putts.
“Spent a few minutes on the putting green last night and holed one on the 1st, and just kind of kept going from there.
“You’re just trying to make as many birdies as possible. The hole looks pretty big at that point, so I was just going for it as much as I could.”
Having turned in just 29 strokes, Maguire admitted she did have eyes towards the magical 59 but a costly double on 12 put paid to her chances of making history.
“Yeah, 12 I thought I hit a nice shot. Got a little bit of a gust of wind and was probably a foot from being very close to the flag, and suddenly came back downhill and into the water.
“It’s that kind of golf course. Yeah, didn’t hit a bad shot. Annoying to double 12 and kind of killed my momentum a little bit. Felt like there was a chance at 59 if I had kept going.
“No, I mean, it was nice to sort of pick up an early birdie on 14, and to birdie 18 was a bonus then to finish.”
Meadow is alongside Maguire in 13th place with her slim hopes of making the CME Group Tour Championship still alive after backing up her opening 67 with a 68.
After two opening pars, back-to-back birdies on three and four pushed the Jordanstown native in the right direction before giving one back on the 8th.
A run of eight successive pars was arrested with a birdie on 17.
Meadow entered the week 81st in the season-long rankings and she is projected to rise to 76th as it stands with the top-60 making it to the season finale so she needs something special on Sunday.