Maguire slow out of the traps as Ko and Annanarukarn lead in Saudi

Ronan MacNamara

Leona Maguire (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Leona Maguire is seven shots off the pace after the opening round of the Aramco Saudi Ladies International at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club while Stephanie Meadow endured a difficult start to her Ladies European Tour season.

Maguire carded a one-under 71 and trails Lydia Ko and Pajaree Annanarukarn who share the lead on eight-under-par.

The Cavan native started well with two birdies in her first three holes before a bogey on the fifth was cancelled out by a birdie on 9.


A dropped shot on ten after a slack chip set the tone for a back nine that would be devoid of momentum with her lone birdie coming on 13 before a third bogey of the day on 16.

Jordanstown native Meadow is well back on five-over after an opening 77.

At the top, Race to CME Globe winner Ko was flawless, rolling in eight birdies in a blemish free 64 to share the lead with former ANA Inspiration winner Annanarukarn.

“I knew that between today and tomorrow that today was the day to take advantage of the calmer conditions,” said the 2021 champion.

“When I came here in November the wind picked up in the afternoon. At this time of the year and with the forecast, it’s only going to be stronger and probably some of the strongest winds I’ve seen out here.

“I knew that today with some of the pin positions I needed to be a little bit more aggressive. All in all, I putted really well out there. Most of the opportunities I had I was able to take advantage of that, it was that kind of a day and a nice start to the season. It’s cool to see I have an officially under-par round as a Mrs.

“I think there are plenty of holes, especially when the wind is calmer, that you can reach a couple of par-fives and be a little bit more aggressive to pin positions.

“The wind is such a big factor on this golf course, so when it’s playing to your advantage you kind of want to use that.

“I felt really confident with the putter today, so that when I didn’t hit the green I wasn’t too stressed about it and felt like I could make up and down.”

Thailand’s Annanarukarn is making her debut in this event and she was pleased with how she fared at Royal Greens.

“I was actually really in the zone starting off since the first hole,” said the 23-year-old. “I did not expect the first birdie. It was about an eight-yard putt for birdie, and I made a really good stroke there.

“I just kept a really good momentum going forward, so I made four straight birdies and just had a really good start. Then I really came in there and try to play one shot at a time.

“My putting was the strongest part.  I really tried to get the speed good enough, and it turned out great today. I’m really grateful for that.

“Playing in the morning wave, especially my first time here, I know a lot of players said it gets really windy in the afternoon. I played the practice round in the afternoon and it was really windy, so obviously I was just trying to go low if I could.”

Stay ahead of the game. Subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest Irish Golfer news straight to your inbox!

More News

Leave a comment

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy & Terms of Service apply.