Stirring finish keeps Maguire in the mix as Ko birdies last four to lead

Ronan MacNamara

Leona Maguire (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)

Back-to-back closing birdies moved Leona Maguire to within four of Lydia Ko at the end of the opening round of the CME Group Tour Championship in Florida. 

Birdies on 17 and 18 saw Maguire end an up and down day with a 69 to leave her on three-under and in a share of 13th place. 

The Cavan native who is 17th in the Race to CME Rankings started well with birdies on the fourth and sixth holes. 

A bogey on 8 saw her turn in 35 but she bounced back on the tenth. 

A bogey on 12 dropped her back to one-under and after failing to take advantage of the par-5 14th she was left frustrated before she finished well. 

Race to CME leader Ko leads the way on seven-under after a seven-under 65. 

The New Zealander put on a remarkable finish with four successive birdies to storm to the summit. 

They say all good rounds start with a bogey and after opening with a six on the par-5 first hole she bounced back with three consecutive birdies from the fifth before adding another on 11. 

Ko leads Danielle Kang and Pajaree Anannarukarn by the minimium while Hyo Joo Kim and Gemma Druburgh are five-under. 

“Not the greatest start. Not the start that I had envisioned going to sleep yesterday, but I knew that there were plenty of golf to be played.

“You know, no matter what circumstances, I think with the wind being up today, it was going to be a tough few stretch of holes to start. So I just wanted to not get too caught up with how I started and just stay patient out there.

“I think that’s going to be a big key this week. It’s 72 holes. The LPGA’s top 60 players are here this week, so you know that you’re going to — there’s going to be so much good golf. You’re just trying to play as good golf as the others (laughing).

“When I actually saw a couple of the low ones, it was a bit of a head-scratcher. I was, like, man, maybe there is a 66 out there. But I just enjoyed it, and I think especially on the back nine when I did have the birdie opportunities, I was able to take that and convert it into a birdie.

So, yeah, overall I think it was a really solid day. Hopefully that’s good momentum for the next three days.”

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