Maguire aiming to go under the radar and catch runaway leader Lydia Ko

Ronan MacNamara

Leona Maguire (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Leona Maguire is back in the pack on six-under after successive rounds of 69, seven shots adrift of runaway leader Lydia Ko and she hopes to go under the radar as she chases the $2 million first prize over the weekend at the CME Group Tour Championship.

Maguire is in a share of seventh place on six-under while Ko has a five-shot lead over Hyo Joo Kim on thirteen-under-par.

“Yeah, there’s obviously a lot of people with a lot of pressure on them this week,” said Maguire. “There’s a few things up in the air, so I’m going to kind of stay under the radar, do my thing, try to give myself as many chances as possible and see what we can do over the weekend.”

The Cavan native finished with two closing birdies and it was another stirling back nine effort that kept her in the hunt for her second LPGA title. Having turned in level-par 36, Maguire carded birdies on 11, 14 and 16 to keep her hopes alive.

Conditions have proved difficult but the 27-year-old was happy with how she played but is hoping to take capitalise on the par fives more over the weekend.

“It’s tricky. You have to kind of time your shots with the gusts. I think it’s a tricky start, those opening sort of five holes. Once you get through those five holes, you know there’s a few chances coming your way. So you want to play steady for those opening few holes and then take your chances on the par-5s when you get them.

“Yeah, I played solid on the front, but holed a couple of nice putts on the back nine. Holed a nice birdie putt on 11 to kind of get me going. Hit a really nice wedge shot into 14. Nearly holed that. Nice birdie putt on 16.

“I feel like the par-3s are tricky out here, especially with the way the wind is. They’re sneaky long. To pick up a birdie on 16 was a nice bonus.”

The rest of the field is faced with a mammoth task of hunting down a rejuvenated Ko who tops the Race to CME Rankings.

“I don’t think it’s a course you can be overly aggressive. I think it depends on where the pins are. It depends on where the wind is,” explained Maguire.

“You do need to take advantage of certain holes. Especially the par-5s, there’s a few shorter holes. I mean, Lydia is Lydia. I’m sure she’s going to keep going, so ultimately try and shoot as low as we can over the weekend and see what happens.

“Lydia has been incredible for a long time. Played with her back in I think it was 2010 in the World Am in Argentina. She was a phenom then getting ready to turn pro. I remember her short game was incredible. A wedge shot didn’t go outside 3, 4 feet. I played with her in the Olympics. She had a hole-in-one that day and won the silver medal and all that.

“Yeah, Lydia is one of the best players of our generation, and to do it as long as she has is very impressive. She’s just a class act, and she’s one of the nicest people out on tour as well. So she’s a good golfer, but she’s probably an even better person.”


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