Eagle finish keeps defending champion Maguire in the hunt at Meijer LPGA Classic

Mark McGowan

Leona Maguire (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Mark McGowan

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Leona Maguire has made no secret of her love for Blythefield Country Club in Belmont, Michigan. Two runner-up finishes preceded her incredible Sunday charge to get her second LPGA Tour win here in 2023, but she found the going a little tougher on day one of the 2024 edition.

An early bogey was corrected with two birdies on each of the opening nine’s par-5s, but a double bogey-six at the ninth saw her make the turn at +1 and she immediately followed with a bogey at the par-5 10th to slip way down the pack.

Another birdie at 12 was cancelled out by a bogey at 17, and she reached the last at +2 for the tournament. Things can change quickly in golf, however, and an eagle at the par-5 closing hole got her back to level par, just outside the cutline but only seven shots back from the lead.

Stephanie Meadow went one better than her fellow countrywoman, but the Jordanstown girl got off to a much worse start, bogeying four of the opening six and looking destined for the weekend off.

That bogey on six would be her last of the day, however, and back-to-back birdies on seven and eight sparked an impressive revival. She’d claw her way back to +1 with a three on 16 and then, like Maguire, an eagle at the last would vault her up the leaderboard and into a tie for 49th on what is an extremely bunched leaderboard.

Both women will have the advantage of early tee times on day two, and Maguire has shown in the past how low scores are there to be shot at Blythefield, and should either find a low round on day two, they’ll be very much in the mix heading into the weekend.

American Alisson Lee leads the way on -7, and she has a two-shot lead over a group of nine at -5 that includes former tournament winner Jennifer Kupcho and two-time tournament winner Brooke Henderson.

“I feel like my biggest strength today was definitely my putter,” lee said afterwards. “Last week we had some time off at home and I honestly didn’t feel too great about how I was hitting it. My swing didn’t feel quite right. I did feel a bit lost.

“Coming into this week I didn’t feel quite like myself when it came to my swing. Wasn’t hitting it the way I wanted to.

“So I mean, today it was definitely really nice to shoot a low one today. Definitely giving a lot of credit to my putter. Even I made a lot of really, really good par saves, and a lot of good birdies. Yeah, definitely overall really happy and pleasantly surprised about my round today.

“Hopefully I can keep this momentum going. I feel like I’ve kind of cooled off over the last month or two. Like I said, haven’t felt quite right about my swing and felt like I found something at the end of last week and found a little something today.”

World number one Nelly Korda, who missed the cut at the recent U.S. Women’s Open after making a 10 on the par-3 12th – her third hole of the tournament – again looked a little out of sorts as she struggled to a round of +4.


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