Meadow makes a move as Team Ireland have it all to play for in Tokyo

John Shortt
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Meadow makes a move as Team Ireland have it all to play for in Tokyo

Stephanie Meadow, left, and Leona Maguire fist bump after round three of the women's individual stroke play at the Kasumigaseki Country Club during the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympic Games in Kawagoe, Saitama, Japan. (Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Nelly Korda maintains her lead following the third round of the Women’s Individual Stroke Play in Tokyo and she sits on 15-under par after a two-under 69 today.

Korda holds a three shot lead over India’s Inditi Ashok with Team Ireland’s Stephanie Meadow in T10 on 7-under par and Leona Maguire two shots further back and in T18.

Meadow endured a frustrating day as, despite giving herself a host of opportunities, she remained at level par after 9 holes where birdies on 6 and 7 were counterbalanced by bogeys on 1 and 9. As in her previous two rounds though, she got it going towards the end; the Jordanstown pro finishing with three birdies in her final six holes to post a 68.

Speaking afterwards, Meadow said that patience was key: “Yeah definitely. The entire front – well, most of the round – I felt like if I just kept hitting it in there at some point, they’d have to drop. I guess one thing is, I had a few misreads and a couple of bad putts, it wasn’t like I was hitting them perfect, so I couldn’t get too mad at myself. It was part of it, but it was nice to finish strong.

“I hit it really well today it could have been a low one, but I’m just happy I gave myself a lot of opportunities and hopefully I can tie that together tomorrow with making some putts. I’m in with a chance, so that’s all I can ask for.”

Meanwhile, Leona Maguire got off to a hot start, birdieing her opening two holes before following that up with further birdies on 7 and 8 to get to 8-under par, just one shot outside the medal positions and in a tie for 5th early in her second round.

However, just as Maguire looked to be making the turn primed for a back-nine charge, her drive on 9 left her with trees to negotiate for her second shot and she tried to take too much off, catching a branch before hitting her third into a bunker and compounding the errors before eventually racking up a triple-bogey 7.

With momentum well and truly derailed, Maguire managed just one more birdie on the back 9, finishing 1-under for her round and on 5-under total, five shots back of the medal places in a tie for 18th.

“I’m frustrated,” Maguire said afterwards. “I got off to a much better start and I felt like I made up a lot of ground early and then just threw it away on 9, pretty much. I didn’t feel like I hit all that bad of a shot, like I thought I hit the second shot real nice and it just clipped that tree. Things could have gone a lot differently if that ball had have just gone a little bit higher, a little bit lower but, that’s golf.

“After that I tried to stay as patient as I could. I didn’t drive the ball particularly well today and didn’t give myself as many chances as I would have liked. It was nice to get a birdie on 17 to get back under par and I’ve one more shot at it tomorrow.”

Maguire, who shot a course record equalling final round 61 at the Evian Championship just two weeks ago, will need something similar tomorrow if she is in with a shot of a medal.

“I think I’ve been playing the front 9 pretty well, I haven’t quite figured out the back 9 yet. Like I said, I need to hit more fairways, give myself chances, hole a few putts and try and do what I did at Evian I guess.”

Meadow and Maguire were paired together today and having grown up playing amateur golf for Ireland have only played in the same pairing on Tour a handful of times as professionals. Today, they teed up alongside each other at an Olympic Games.

“I mean, even for the both of us to be on the LPGA tour coming from a country that really had no one before, I think that’s pretty amazing,” Meadow reflected. “She (Leona) got off to a really hot start and that motivated me a bit and she had a little blip but other than that she played really solid.

“We’ve come a long way. She’s had a great year and hopefully I can build off this and have a good end of the season. I think we’ve done pretty well for ourselves, so I think she is as proud as I am.”

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