Leona Maguire carded a second successive 70 to keep her Main Tour bid on track on day three of the Ladies European Tour’s Final Stage Lalla Aicha Tour School.
Leona Maguire / Image from Symetra Tour
Playing the easier Amelkis course, the Cavan professional often had to grind it out on a difficult day in Morocco but remains within the top-5 who will earn a full schedule next season.
Currently in a share of 4th on eight-under-par, it was another nearly day with the putter; Maguire returning four birdies along with two dropped shots to return a two-under score on the day.
She’ll be hoping her putter is biding its time before catching fire with a cut to the leading 60 players and ties taking place after tomorrow’s round. After 90 holes, the top-5 will earn category 5c membership while those in positions six to 25 will earn category 8 membership of the LET for 2019.
Maguire will be aiming for top prize no doubt but she’ll be hoping to rubber-stamp her credentials with an authoritative display tomorrow to take the pressure off Thursday’s final round.
And there’s hot scores out there that should inspire her too with England’s Bronte Law posting a course record-equalling 10-under-par 62 which included nine birdies in a row: an all-time record on the Ladies European Tour.
With a 54-hole total of 13-under-par 203 in the 90-hole marathon qualifier, Law ended the day a stroke ahead of Sweden’s Linnea Ström, who posted the 10-under at Amelkis in pre-qualifying last week.
Manon Gidali from France is three strokes further back on nine-under-par.
Law lowered by two the previous LET record for the number of consecutive birdies in a round and tied the total number of birdies, with 12.
The 23-year-old from Stockport said that her hot streak included a chip-in on hole seven and tap-ins on holes six and eight.
She said: “I made a good putt on the first hole, so I was pleased with that and then I made bogeys on three and four. Three was a tough pin and I just missed the green and didn’t get up and down, but four kind of irritated me. I was not far from the hole at all and I ended up three-putting.
“From there, it kick started. I made a birdie on the next hole and started hitting some really close ones. I had three tap-ins, which makes a difference. I started to see a couple of putts go in and once you see some putts go in, you believe that the lines you’re picking are good lines.
It was nice to feel confident over the ball.”
Her new caddie, Jeff Brighton, from Scotland, provided significant motivation and she added: “Me and my caddie were bouncing off each other, saying, ‘What do I get if I make three more birdies?’ For every three in a row I get 40 dollars.
“So then, he was giving me some banter about it and I had three more. Then he said, ‘Well if we get to seven, we’ll start talking real money.’
Then he said, ‘If you get to nine, then we’ll start talking even more money.’ I said, ‘How much money are we talking here?’ He joked around with me, which always makes it easier out there.
“On the last three holes, he said: ‘For every birdie you make, I’ll give you £20.’ So I birdied two of the last three and made myself a little bit of money out there today. I would have made quite a lot of money in a skins game. It was good. I was playing some good golf and I started to hole some putts, which can make a huge difference. I was pleased with how I played. I played steady and it’s always nice to feel in control of your game.
“It’s the first time we’ve worked together, but he’s going to be working for me next year, so part of the reason I brought him out here was to use this as a good set-up for the year and to get to know each other.”
Another former PING Junior Solheim Cup player, who has The 2019 Solheim Cup in her sights, is 23-year-old Ström, who had a third round of 68 at Palm Golf Ourika.
She said: “Overall I played very steady today. I started off well but I didn’t make many putts in the beginning so it was a little bit frustrating on the front nine. I made the turn at even par and then got a birdie on 10 and had three more coming in. It was steady and I hit the flag stick on hole number four, so that was fun. I’m looking forward to the next two days. I’m excited to play at Amelkis again because I really like that course, especially after that score last week. I’m going to go out and have fun, with my brother on the bag.”
Gidali was pleased with her 69 at Palm Golf Ourika and said: “I started well but then I think I got a little stressed and the putts just didn’t go in. I finished with a bogey on 16, which is okay, but I’m pretty happy about my round.”