Maguire claims first LET victory in London as Walsh shoots -8 for T3

Kevin Kent

Leona Maguire in action during the final round at Centurion (Photo: Tristan Jones/LET)

Kevin Kent

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Leona Maguire came out on top after a dramatic final day at the Aramco Team Series in Centurion Club London, making history by becoming the first Irish woman to win on the LET circuit.

But she was almost pipped to the post by Lauren Walsh who shot the round of the week (-8) to contest the title before settling for an impressive third spot.

Walsh began her day on +2 and was quickly into her stride starting off with three birdies on the bounce. She continued her hot streak on the par-3 fifth and again on the par-5 9th to turn bogey-free on -5 for the day. Another was to follow on the next hole with her only blemish coming in the form of bogey on the par-3 14th. She quickly recovered this with birdie on the 16th before her shot of the week came with her second into the par-5 18th green leaving her inside 15-feet for eagle to close out her round. This was duly dispatched, and Walsh posted the number of -6 in the clubhouse. She faced the anxious wait again on the final day this week as the final groups jockeyed for position filtering home.

Maguire had started brightly with back-to-back birdies on holes one and two, but after a dropped shot on four, disaster struck on six when her tee shot sailed out of bounds and she ended up carding a double-bogey seven which saw sole possession of the lead slip from her grasp and the leading groups would end up in a back nine dogfight with Alison Lee, Maguire, Maria Hernandez and Georgia Hall all involved in the tussle.

Maguire was struggling for length on the greens and was working hard to maintain her seven-under while Alison Lee was dealing with the nether-regions of the rough on Centurion. Bogey on her 18th saw American Lee drop back from her share of the lead to tie Walsh on -6 for the clubhouse lead. Georgia Hall had a shot for the outright lead on the sixteenth which saw Maguire bogey to drop back to -6. This shaved the cup and momentarily there was a four-way tie at the top.

This was short lived as Maria Hernandez was birding her final hole to post -7 in the clubhouse and end Walsh’s dreams of a big victory in her rookie year. The lead group had two holes to catch Hernandez as the rain returned to London. It was all to play for on the final hole when Maguire pulled off a sensational second to leave herself just a downhill putt inside 10-feet for eagle and her first win on the LET. Straight and true for Maguire after a battling final day. Her -8, just pipping Maria Hernandez at the line.

Par for her final round was enough for Maguire and after a tough tussle, her relief was clear. “Didn’t play my best golf,” she said. “But to be fair, Dermot my caddy just kept saying, ‘be patient, be patient’, and he said right before it, lets hit the shot of the year here. It was just a perfect number and my trusty hybrids came in useful once again.”

Asked if she knew how tight at the top of the leaderboard it was as she made her way home: “I knew Alison was making a run. I kind of thought I’d need to get to 10 to be honest. 10 was the number I had in my head but, I just hung in, even when things weren’t going right. I just waited for a turn, and it was nice to finish in style on the 18th.”

She gave her thoughts on nerves as she stood over the winning eagle putt: “Yeah, I mean I was just trying to hit a good putt. It was almost a little bit like a Solheim cup, and I knew that no Irish woman had ever won on the LET before, so that putt was for me. That putt was for my family and that putt was for Ireland. So, a proud moment for all of us,” said an emotional Maguire on the 18th.

Speaking after her final day charge Walsh was elated as she waited for the lead groups to finish: “Yeah, my coach text me last night and told me to go break 70 tomorrow and see what happens,’’ she said. “And after being five-under through ten I was like, okay let’s make a few more birdies coming in and we’ll see what happens. But yeah, a special day.’’ Walsh would finish up in a tie for third with Lee and Hall after a second final day bolt in as many events.

Next up is another big one as the tour hits France for the eight-million-dollar Evian Championship which kicks off from the 11th the 14th of July. All the big names will be in town with Leona Maguire heading into the week on the crest of a wave and looking to go back-to-back after her maiden LET victory.


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