Leona Maguire is competing this week in Stage II of the LPGA Qualifying Tournament and finds herself well down the field after the first round where she returned a two over par 74 in the 72-hole, no cut event played across the Panther and Bobcat Courses at Plantation.
Leona Maguire / Image from Getty Images
Maguire, who is bidding for a chance to play alongside Ireland’s Stephanie Meadow on the LPGA Tour proper next year, had a solid season on the Symetra Tour and finished in 37th place on the Volvik Race for the Card Order of Merit having completed 13 events and amassed $28,243 in the process. Having turned professional after being the #1 ranked female amateur in the world a lot was expected of Maguire and she had delivered in her rookie season, while also coming to grips with life on Tour and the many differences and challenges it has to to the amateur scene.
In the first round of Stage II Qualifying Maguire found herself four over after five holes but birdies on 7 and 8 helped calm the tide with others following on 13 and 15 which got her back to level par before a double bogey on 17 left her on +2 for the day on the Bobcat Course and in T83 position.
A minimum of the top-25 players and ties will advance to Q-Series, contested from Oct. 22 through Nov. 3 in Pinehurst, N.C. at Pinehurst Resort. Those at the next score, or scores, will also advance provided that the total number of players in Q-Series does not exceed 108, which currently has 62 exempt and entered competitors.
Sarah Hoffman (Saline, Michigan) holds the outright lead in Stage II thanks to a solid 7-under par 65 performance, also on the Bobcat Course.
“I had good yardages into the hole and really like the speed of the greens,” said Hoffman, who carded a bogey-free, 5-under par 31 going out. “My caddy Michelle [Simpson] and I were reading them perfectly, my line was matching up with the speed and they were just going in.”
If one didn’t know it was the duos first time working together, they wouldn’t be able to tell otherwise. Hoffman and Simpson met earlier this year when Hoffman’s family hosted Simpson for the LPGA Volvik Championship in Ann Arbor, Mich., where Simpson caddied for Katie Burnett. Since the initial meeting, their friendship has slowly blossomed and its strength was showcased this afternoon.
“We kept it loose, laughing on the course and then focused over each shot when we needed to,” Hoffman said. “We didn’t talk about golf in between shots and it helped me relax. It’s awesome to get off to a good start, but we can’t get complacent. We are going to stick to the gameplan and keep focusing over every shot, giving it our best and hope the putts keep dropping.”
Meanwhile, the round of the day on the Panther Course belonged to Sandy Choi (Seoul, Republic of Korea). The 2018 Symetra Tour rookie and former Duke University standout fired a 6-under par 66 to claim solo second heading into round two.
“I started off birdie-birdie so that was a huge confidence boost and I’m pretty accurate with my shots so that helped on the Panther Course,” said Choi, who finished tied for fifth at Stage II of the 2017 LPGA Qualifying Tournament with an overall score of 8-under par. “Last year I played pretty solid, so I feel like I can play well again this year and I started off on the right track.”
Bogey-free until the par-4 18th, Choi found a groove with her putter that helped get things moving for her. That was something she said was lacking in the final round of the Symetra Tour Championship last Sunday when she recorded 34 putts.
“Before I came here, for the five days after our final tournament in Daytona Beach I worked on my putting because it was pretty poor,” Choi said. “I worked out a lot of things in my putting, so it feels good that it showed today.”
After 18 holes, a total of 27 players are at 2-under par or better, with 11 more individuals sitting on the 1-under par mark. Meanwhile, 58 competitors enter day two at even par or better.