Leona Maguire picked up where she left off at pre-qualifying to card a confident four-under-par 68 on the opening day of the Ladies European Tour’s Lalla Aicha Tour School finals in Morocco.
The Cavan professional spoke last week of feeling comfortable around the Amelkis track and so it proved once more as she returned five birdies with her one dropped shot coming at the par-4 10th.
All told, her superb 68 sees Maguire hold a share of third spot after day one and she’ll now be hoping to back up that scoring on the tougher Palm Golf track Monday morning.
This week a total of 115 players are battling it out over five rounds. They play at both Amelkis Golf Club and Palm Golf Ourika twice before playing the final round at Amelkis Golf Club on Thursday.
Following 90 holes, the leading five players will earn Category 5c membership of the LET, meaning that they will gain entry into most tournaments, while those in positions 6-25 will earn membership in Category 8. Players who make the cut but finish in positions 26 or lower may still join the LET in Category 9b but undoubtedly Leona will have her eyes on the best category of all.
So far the one to catch is Astha Madan from India who fired a flawless seven-under-par 65 to take a one-stroke lead on the opening day in Morocco.
The 22-year-old from Gurgaon had a clean score card featuring two birdies on the front nine and five on the back at Amelkis Golf Club in Marrakesh, to sit one clear of Lauren Horsford from England.
Spain’s Maria Hernandez, Ireland’s Maguire, English pair Sian Evans and Dulcie Sverdloff, Frenchwoman Manon Gidali and Esther Henseleit from Germany are all on four-under-par in the chase to earn playing rights on tour next season.
Madan didn’t even know that she was bogey-free until after the round and thought that her score would have been “around five-under.”
It happened to be her best ever 18-hole score and the Sacramento State University graduate, who turned professional in July, said afterwards: “I’m really thrilled with my round. I started on the first hole and hit it pretty close and made birdie there. I made a really long one on seven, from 66 feet, to be precise and then I sank a few putts on the back nine, too. I’m hoping to give Aditi (Ashok) some competition out there next year!”
When asked what it would mean to her to qualify for the LET, she said: “Everything. This is what I came for, so it would be great to get there.”