Moving day smiles for Maguire at SKYiGolf Championship

Leona Maguire / Image from Symetra Tour
Leona Maguire / Image from Symetra Tour

Leona Maguire was all smiles as she fired her second successive 69 to move to within four shots of the lead ahead of the final round of the SKYiGOLF Championship, the opening event of the 2019 Symetra Tour season.

After clocking two top-20 finishes on the Ladies European Tour last month in Australia, the Cavan professional has given herself an early chance at success on more familiar American turf after returning a superb, blemish-free round of 69 on moving day to leap into a share of 18th.

Maguire is looking menacing at four-under par at Charlotte Harbour National Golf Club and with a total purse of $250,000 on offer in Florida, the second highest on Tour this year, she’ll be hoping to escalate her ascension towards the promised land of the LPGA Tour at the first time of asking in 2019.

Remarkably, 14-year old American amateur, Alexa Pano is among a quarter of Americans who Maguire will have to catch atop the leaderboard at eight-under par. The teen is joined by Jean Reynolds, Allison Emrey and Lauren Kim on what is a closely bunched leaderboard ahead of this evening’s closing action.

Pano (Lake Worth, Florida) has a chance to rewrite the record books in today’s final round at Charlotte Harbor National Golf Club at Bobcat Trail.  The youngest champion in the 39-year history of the Symetra Tour is Hannah O’Sullivan who won the 2015 Gateway Classic at Longbow Golf Club in Mesa, Ariz. at the age of 16 and is now a sophomore at Duke University. Meanwhile, the last sponsor exemption to come out victorious on the Symetra Tour was seven-time LPGA Tour winner Brooke Henderson at the 2015 Four Winds Invitational.

If Pano wins, it would be no coincidence that it’s O’Sullivan’s mark she breaks.

“I met her on my visit to Duke in the fall of 2017,” said Pano. “We ate lunch and she showed me around because back then you could do visits. It’s something I’m used to, playing up in events a lot I hear ‘youngest person ever’ so often. It kind of went away now that I’m 14, but here we are again.”

We will no doubt be hearing more from this teenager and she has a big stage on the horizon after accepted an invitation to participate in the inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur from April 3-6, 2019 with the final round to take place at Augusta National Golf Club, a tournament in which  Olivia Mehaffey will also compete.