Maguire saves her best for last at Honda LPGA Thailand

Adam McKendry

Leona Maguire (Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images)

Adam McKendry

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Leona Maguire believes her game is in “really good shape” ahead of a short break back home before her first Major of the year at the Chevron Championship at the end of the month.

The Cavan woman saved her best round for last at the Honda LPGA Thailand, a superb bogey-free eight-under 64 seeing her jump inside the top-10 at 19-under when she finished her round at Siam Country Club in Chonburi

It’s another superb performance from Maguire, who birdied all four par-fives in her final round, and she now hasn’t finished outside the top-30 in her last six events to carry plenty of momentum into the first Major of the year in two weeks’ time.

The 27-year-old will spend a couple of days in Cavan before heading back to the States to play the JTBC Classic in Carlsbad, the week before her first attempt to win a maiden Major this season, and she’s in a confident mood.

“My game is in really good shape. I felt like I played really, really good golf tee to green this week. Didn’t hole any putts at all the first three days; holed a few today, which was nice. So overall my game is in good shape heading out here,” she said.

“My approach shots were really good all week. Gave myself a lot of chances and it was quite frustrating trying to stay patient. But it’s nice. Any time you finish off a tournament or a swing with your best round it’s always good.”

Her final round was one to hold onto as she was aggressive on her approach shots, which led to her hitting just 12 of the 18 greens in regulation but still making eight birdies, largely down to a fine day with the putter as she took just 22 shots on the green.

Birdies on three of her first four holes set the tone for the rest of the day and she added another at the par-five seventh to turn in four-under, and she would repeat the trick on her back-nine.

Once again she took advantage of a par-five, birdieing the 10th, before back-to-back shots were gained at the par-fours 14 and 15, and she rounded it off in style with a closing birdie on the par-five 18th for a 64.

With the game in good shape, she’ll check in briefly with coach Shane O’Grady in Dublin while she’s back in Ireland before returning to her home base in Orlando, then she will make the trip to the west coast for the first run of Californian events.

“I’ll probably take it easy on Monday. I don’t get to go home that often, so my coach is based back in Dublin, so any time I get to go home it’s kind of something to work on,” added Maguire.

“I mean, my game doesn’t need an awful lot of work. Just kind of a fine tuning and checkup, few home cooked meals and sleep in my own bed and be good to go again.

“I get back on Monday, so I think Sunday dinner will be delayed!”

Starting the day ten shots back of the lead, Maguire was never in with a chance of competing for the title on Sunday barring both a miraculous round from herself and a collapse from all the leading competitors, with low scoring the order of the week in Chonburi.

With Siam CC already a course that could be attacked by longer hitters, it was softened up due to frequent rain storms and the scores reflected that, but unfortunately the final round was plagued by more weather delays as a storm called a halt to play as the leaders entered the back nine.

When play resumed at 8.35am Irish time, overnight leader Nanna Koerstz Madsen had extended her advantage to two shots over China’s Xiyu Lin at 26-under-par having played her first 12 holes in five-under for the day.

In her bid to collect a first LPGA title, Maguire’s European Solheim Cup team-mate added further birdies after the restart at 14 and 15 but just when it looked like the tournament was Madsen’s, the Dane wobbled, first with a bogey on 16 but then dramatically at the last; Madsen’s two-shot lead playing the 72nd hole disappearing when she airmailed the final green, her ball finding the hospitality tent before scrambling for another bogey.

Lin had no such worries, finishing like a train with three birdies in the last four holes and with the pair inseparable at 26-under, the tournament headed for a playoff.

Undeterred by her regulation wobble, Madsen bounced back, with the first playoff hole halved in birdies before the crucial blow was struck; Madsen landing an eagle for a hard-fought victory and her first on the top tier of women’s professional golf.

“It was fun,” said a relieved Madsen. “I really tried to enjoy the moment. Standing now with the trophy it was even more fun. A little bummed on 18; the ordinary play was not very fun. But now it’s great!”

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