Maguire finishes with a flourish to remain within reach in Florida

Ronan MacNamara
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Leona Maguire at the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

Three birdies in her last five holes kept Leona Maguire within reach of Brooke Henderson at the halfway stage of the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions but she will need to go low over the weekend if she is to catch the Canadian.

Maguire ground out a three-under 69 to move inside the top-7 on four-under and seven shots adrift of Henderson who put daylight between herself and the rest of the field with a 66 to move four clear of Nelly Korda on eleven-under.

Charley Hull is a shot further back on six-under.

Maguire started well with birdies on 11 and 12 before dropped shots on 15 and 17 halted her early momentum and dropped her well off the pace.

After a birdie, bogey run on the second and third, the Cavan native powered home with welcome birdies on the fifth, seventh and ninth to complete her back nine in 33 and keep herself in with a shout over the weekend.

Two-time major winner Henderson meanwhile was flawless in her second round with much of the work courtesy of a rapid start of four successive birdies from the second hole.

After a string of pars the world number seven picked up a birdie on 12 before a delicate up and down from a tricky lie short of the par-5 15th moved her to eleven-under and put her firmly in the driving seat in Florida.

Henderson buoyed by playing with Annika Sörenstam was happy to add on a couple of extra birdies as a topping for her excellent opening five holes.

“Yeah, it was a lot of fun to get four consecutive birdies on the front nine. Really kept the momentum going. To finish the back nine with two birdies too felt well nice.

“It was just really exciting day. Having an opportunity to play with Annika and John again was just really cool. I think everyone on tour, we all look up to Annika, so to have an opportunity to play alongside her, same group, was pretty special.”

The 25-year-old has taken 27 and 28 putts over the first 36 holes and she is feeling at ease with her new putter.

“I love the feel of it. Right way I was really fond of my new putter, and it’s been working well so far this week. I think in the off-season I did a lot of putting and chipping originally when I couldn’t do full swings, so I think that has been paying off a little bit as well. The putter feels good right now.

“Starting last year, putting with the pin in, putting left-hand low, slow progress, and I think it just keeps on getting better. So hopefully we can just continue to make improvements with the putter and hopefully more putts will fall in the future.”

As was the trend for much of the 2022 LPGA Tour season, the form horse always seemed to pull away with second to tenth place remaining tightly packed behind.

In tandem with that pattern, Maguire is just three shots behind world number two Korda in second place.

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