Leona Maguire will come away from another Sunday in contention probably feeling she didn’t do anything wrong but didn’t do enough to win.
After she battled gallantly with Lydia Ko despite not having her ‘A’ game at the CME Group Tour Championship last Sunday Maguire was back in the hunt for her second win of the season and first LET title at the Open De Espana.
Teeing off two shots off the lead heading into the final round, the Cavan native posted a four-under 69 to finish fourth on sixteen-under-par, two shots off the playoff which was won by veteran Caroline Hedwall at the fourth extra hole.
Maguire only dropped two shots all week but unfortunately didn’t make enough birdies particularly on the par-5s.
In her last round Maguire carded birdies on the 3rd, 4th, 11th and 17th to try and force the issue but Hedwall and Morgane Metraux weren’t for moving at the summit but the 27-year-old might be wishing the season wasn’t ending as she appeared to be right in the middle of another purple patch.
Maguire became the first female golfer from Ireland to win on the LPGA Tour this year and she was a regular contender to win a second gong since February however, it wasn’t to be as she took a back seat for the drama that unfolded at the top.
Hedwall and Metraux were faultless in their pursuit of the title in Spain, both going bogey-free for the 76 holes of play.
In regulation holes Hedwall carded a 67 while Metraux was two worse with a 69 with both players birdieing the 16th and 17th holes.
The par-3 18th was the stage for the playoff and after two routine threes the first chance to win fell to Hedwall. The Swede passed up a ten foot putt which stayed up on the high side.
To the par-5 17th they went and Switzerland’s Metraux left the door ajar for Hedwall after a slack pitch from just short of the green put the initiative in Hedwall’s favour.
Solheim Cup legend Hedwall is no stranger to pressure situations but she boxed her long eagle attempt past the hole, leaving a similar distance to the one she missed on the previous hole.
Metraux who already won on the LET this year dragged her birdie effort left leaving the stage set for Hedwall who rolled back the years, drilling the ball into the back of the hole and letting out a textbook roar to take her first LET win since the 2018 French Open.
“It just feels awesome, it feels forever that I have waited for that win,” she said. “I wasn’t sure I still had it in me. It’s so nice to get it together and get this win.
“It has been a rollercoaster to be honest, I had injury in 2014 that was really tough on me, and I had a hard turn on my self-confidence. That win in 2018 meant a lot to me.
“It was tough during Covid-19, I didn’t want to travel as much but now it’s more or less back to normal and it feels great. My game is coming together really nicely, and it was awesome to finish with that.”