Maguire shoots level-par as Pedersen continues to lead the way at the ANNIKA

Mark McGowan

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

Mark McGowan

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Leona Maguire lost more ground on moving day at the LPGA’s the ANNIKA Driven by Gainbridge at Florida’s Pelican Golf Club as the Cavan star shot a level-par 71 that saw her fall to a tie for 54th.

Two bogeys, two birdies and 14 pars were her returns for the day, and trying to fine-tune her game for next week’s season-ending CME Globe Championship will now be her focus in Sunday’s final round.

Dane Emily Kristine Pedersen continued to set the pace and she started off quick up the leaderboard, making two birdies within her first three holes. The five-time Ladies European Tour champion remained steady on her front nine, going on to make six-consecutive pars after her two birdies on Nos. 2 and 3. She picked up momentum on the back nine, making a birdie on the par-4 11th before continuing her movement up the leaderboard with three birdies in her last five holes to secure herself as solo 54-hole leader. Pedersen credited her short game on Saturday for her consistent play, in which she had three successful sand saves and her lowest number of putts this week at 26.

“My short game was pretty good today. I got up and down every time I missed a green, and I holed a chip, so that definitely kept me in the game, especially early in the round,” said the 2017 LPGA Rookie. “It’s not been great the last couple days, but today was good. That’s kind of what kept the bogeys off the card and kept the momentum going, I think.”

With her 54-hole score of 192, Pedersen set another tournament scoring record this week alongside the 36-hole scoring record she setafter Friday’s round. This is now the first time that the seven-year LPGA Tour veteran has led or co-led after 54 holes, and she is seeking the help of her team to be successful this week.

“I spoke to my coach this morning, spoke to my mental coach, and they said, try and have it as a goal to lead by more than you lead with today to kind of have something for me to chase, and to just focus on what I was doing and not looking at the others. So that’s kind of what I just tried to do. Tried to make more birdies on the weekend than I did the first two days, and that kind of kept me chasing even though I was in the lead.”

The three-time European Solheim Cup team member is being chased by LPGA Tour veteran Amy Yang and three-time LPGA winner Lilia Vu, who both sit at 15-under par. Yang went on a tear during Saturday’s round, recording seven birdies and an eagle to shoot a bogey-free 61 and break the 18-hole scoring record at The ANNIKA. Similarly, the 2023 Chevron Championship and AIG Women’s Open winner Vu recorded a bogey-free 62 in her third round to move up from 10th place in hopes of seeking her fourth win of the 2023 season and her career.

Four players sit in a tie for fourth place at 13-under par including 2023 BMW Ladies Championship runner-up Alison Lee, major champion Patty Tavatanakit, LPGA Mom Azahara Munoz and three-time LPGA champion Gaby Lopez. Both Lee and Tavatanakit recorded bogey-free rounds of 62 to move up from 21st place, while Munoz and Lopez shot their third consecutive round in the 60s at The ANNIKA.


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