Gutsy Maguire pushes Ko all the way but settles for 2nd in LPGA finale

Ronan MacNamara
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Leona Maguire (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Leona Maguire missed out on a second LPGA Tour title at the CME Group Tour Championship as Lydia Ko held her off to take the title and the season-long Race to CME crown.

Maguire set up a mouthwatering two horse race courtesy of a sensational nine-under 63 on Saturday. It’s always difficult to follow that up and her task was made that bit harder with the testing conditions that greeted the players on Sunday.

In the end, it was a credible level-par 72 and a fifteen-under total as Ko edged to a two-shot win.

The Cavan native produced a gutsy performance despite not having her best game – hitting only six greens in regulation. Some sensational up and downs for par kept her on the toes of Ko who was chasing a world number one spot.

“Yeah it was an incredible week and a really great way to finish off the season if you had offered me second at the start of the week I would have grabbed it with both hands,” said Maguire.

“I would have liked to have played a little bit better today but it was really tough out there the wind was up and it was cold, pins were tricky, didn’t play the way I played yesterday but grafted really well, made some key up and downs to keep a little bit of pressure on Lydia.

“Fair play to her, she was a deserving winner.”

It was nip and tuck for the first thirteen holes with Ko edging in front courtesy of a birdie on the par-3 8th.

Maguire’s chances were all but over when she topped her second shot into the water on the par-5 14th which summed up her play from tee to green.

The 27-year-old made a heroic up and down from 60 yards for a bogey six and after Ko made a six of her own after also finding the penalty area it looked as if she had been let off the hook.

But Ko is a serial winner and a two-time major champion, and consecutive birdies on 16 and 17 took the tournament away from Maguire – who also birdied 17 – and gave her a two shot cushion going up 18.

A closing par was enough for Ko to win her second CME title – her first was in her rookie year in 2014. For Maguire it caps a great end to the season after a tenth place finish last week and she was proud of how she remained tough after her slip up on 14.

“There’s a lot of money on the line, every shot is really important. I looked up on 17 and saw Anna (Nordqvist) had got to -14 so that was incentive to birdie 17 and finish strong.

“It’s the last round of the season so you want to finish it off as strongly as you can, that bogey on 14 was as good as some of the birdies I made all week so I’m proud of how I stayed in it and remained patient.

“There was a lot on the line and I wanted to make sure I had a clear head and take my chances coming in.”

Maguire will also move back inside the top-20 in the Rolex Rankings after a year in which she won her maiden LPGA Tour title in February.

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