Barnstorming finish sees Maguire vault into contention at KPMG Women’s Irish Open

Mark McGowan

Leona Maguire (Photo By Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Mark McGowan at Dromoland Castle……

Leona Maguire played a four-hole stretch in five-under on her back nine to thrust herself firmly into the mix at the KPMG Women’s Irish Open at Dromoland Castle.

Having started the day at -1, a birdie at the third quickly took her into red figures for the day, but that quickly evaporated as she’d bogey the next and she’d drop another at the eighth to drop to level-par, dangerously close to the cutline.


The 36-hole chop loomed larger when she dropped another at 13, but she then found the gear she’d been missing and embarked on a four-hole stretch that would take her from straddling the cutline to inside the top-20.

Back-to-back birdies on the par-4 14th and 15th were followed by an eagle-three at the 16th and the large gallery following the marquee grouping had firmly found their voices. Not content with four-under for three holes, she’d make it five-under for four when she rolled in another at the par-3 17th, with none of the putts measuring much more than 10 feet.

A good approach to the long par-5 finishing hole set up another decent chance and an opportunity to vault herself to a tie for 13th. Sadly, the 12-footer grazed the edge, but she’d tap in for a closing par and a second-round 69 that sees her join Olivia Mehaffey at -4 in a tie for 19th.

“I felt like I hadn’t done a lot wrong for the first 12, 13 holes,” Maguire said afterwards. “I blocked one off the 13th which wasn’t very pleasant but I was just trying to give myself chances coming in.

“Thankfully I did that and nice to go on a little bit of a run to finish.”

Maguire trails solo leader Diksha Dagar by six, with the Indian looking to go wire-to-wire and move to number one in the Race to Costa del Sol rankings in the process, but the Cavan star trailed by 10 at the same point last year and came within inches of pushing her way into a playoff so she knows that anything can happen over the closing two rounds.

“I think it’s going to take two low ones over the weekend,” she said, “but it’s not really a golf course you can chase on. I feel you just kind of have to let it happen because there are some tricky holes out there and with it playing that bit longer and softer than last year, you get out of position at all and you find yourself in a little bit of bother.

“So, it’s just a case of going out tomorrow and giving myself as many chances as I can and really taking advantage of those shorter holes, the par-5s in particular and hopefully, a nice bit of magic.”

Maguire is one of six Irish women to make the cut with the world number 14 and the aforementioned Mehaffey joined by Kate Lanigan at -3, Sara Byrne at -2 and Beth Coulter and Emma Fleming at +1.

It marks an incredible achievement that the latter four – all amateurs – have made it through to the weekend at a professional event of this magnitude.

“Really?” asked Maguire when she was informed that she’d have plenty of Irish company over the weekend, “that’s fantastic. I mean, it’s been a brilliant opportunity for them, and I know a few of them have hung back from going back to college to play in this.

“Great that they all made the cut and hopefully we can all put on a nice show at the weekend.”

Indian Dagar birdied the last to take sole possession of the lead at -10, with the trio of Holland’s Anne Van Dam, American Gurleen Kaur and Emma Grechi of France.


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