Maguire and Meadow both relishing a tough set up at the Chevron Championship

Mark McGowan

Stephanie Meadow and Leona Maguire during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics (Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Mark McGowan

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The Chevron Championship – the first women’s major of 2024 – gets underway later today (Thursday) at Carlton Woods in the Houston metropolitan area, and they are expecting a tough set – something both are looking forward to.

The Chevron Championship comes a fortnight after the Bank of Hope LPGA Matchplay, where the altered format for 2024 saw three rounds of strokeplay with the leading eight qualifiers going on to go head-to-head over the final two days at Shadow Creek in Las Vegas. And the firm course and gusting, swirling winds wreaked havoc, but both Maguire and Meadow were among those who handled conditions the best.

“I’m really happy with how I played at Shadow,” said Maguire, who finished three strokes clear as leading qualifier and went on to be beaten by world number one Nelly Korda in the final. “Obviously, it was a quite the test, and it almost felt like a major set up with that golf course and with the greens being as firm and slopy and as fast as they were, so nice to get three really solid rounds under my belt in the stroke play.

“And yeah, I mean, anytime you shoot under-par around that golf course that you know your games in pretty good shape.”

Meadow didn’t quite make it into the leading eight qualifiers at Shadow Creek, but she was right there in contention for the three days and takes a lot of positives from the week regardless.

“I think honestly, when I got done, I was just happy,” she said. “It was such a grind the last few days, like in the wind and the weather, I was just really proud of how I had played. Obviously would have loved to have made it into match play, you know, obviously seeing Leona do it.

“We played a lot of match play when we were growing up, so it would have been fun to be in there, but still overall a fantastic week, love that golf course as well.

“And, you know, I don’t think when you play well, you can’t be too mad at yourself.”

Firm and fast where possible have been the trademarks of recent major setups in the women’s game, and Mother Nature appears to be playing ball this week and both are expecting the greens in particular to provide a stern challenge.

“The greens are new,” Meadow explained. “So they’re a little bit firmer but they’re not super firm, which has been good to see, a few tee shots are a little bit different.

“You kind of have to pick your spots on where you’re gonna be aggressive. Like on eight, you pick right side or left side, so there’s a few things that you have to decide upon, but I think we’ve decided now and I just have to commit to it and go. You know, it’s a great golf course, you’ve got to hit good shots.

“I think you can have the best strategy in the world, but if you can’t execute, it’s not gonna help you at all. So I’ve done a lot of practice just trying to get a feel for it and out of the rough and, yeah, I feel good about my preparation.”

“Obviously, with the greens being redone, they’re quite firm, especially on the front nine,” Maguire said, echoing Meadow’s sentiments. “So I think depending where some pin positions are and how much wind we get, you’re going to have to be sort of disciplined in your targets.

“But there’s some good chances as well. So it’s a case of taking your chances on on some of the shorter holes, on the par-5s. And then there’s a couple of holes that, you know, par is a good score.”

And tough sets ups seem to bring out the best in each of them, as witnessed at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship last year where they both featured in the final group on Sunday.

“Last year Baltusrol was probably the toughest golf course we played all year,” said Maguire, who was leading after 54 holes before running out of steam on the final day. through three rounds I was leading. “So I knew my game was in good enough shape to [be able to] handle a golf course like that. And then Shadow…..

“So it seems like the harder the golf course, the better I do. Sometimes I quite enjoy the test that those sort of golf courses bring.

“I feel like you really have to be sort of really committed to your targets, really on point with your preparation and things like that.

“So yeah, I enjoy those tests at major tournaments and major golf courses.”

Meadow’s tied-third finish at Baltusrol was her highest major finish in the best part of a decade after bursting onto the scene at the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open at Pinehurst, and the strong performance that week – and playing well at Shadow Creek – are all positives that she’s bringing with her to Carlton Woods.

“I think, you know, it just proves to yourself that you can compete with the best on a really hard golf course,” she explained. “I mean, that golf course was very challenging and this golf course is also very challenging and I enjoy major golf and the struggle of it and the mental grind that it takes to play well.

“And I think it just suits me as a person and kind of a golfer overall.”

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