74 for Maguire as Ko edges Ashok in Saudi thriller

Ronan MacNamara

Leona Maguire (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

Ronan MacNamara

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Leona Maguire finished with a whimper after a two-over 74 dropped her back to -5 in the final round of the Aramco Saudi Ladies International at Royal Greens.

Maguire was left with a mountain to climb after three bogeys in her first six holes and despite an improved back nine she ended the week in a share of 40th place and will come away with $31,000.

Lydia Ko fired a final round of 68 (-4) to triumph and record a one-shot victory over Aditi Ashok.

The New Zealander headed into the final day in second place, just one shot off the lead, having shot rounds of 64, 69 and 66 on the first three days.

It was a good start for the world number one with a birdie on the first, before a dropped shot on the second but she soon picked up another birdie on the sixth.

Three more birdies on her back nine was enough for Ko to seal victory with a total of 21-under-par.

“I’m two for two on this golf course,” said Ko. “Clearly something is going for me! This is a golf course where, in the last few days and when I played in 2021, there were a few players that went from the back that would shoot low scores, so I just wanted to focus on my game.

“I don’t think I was setting myself up for a lot of birdie opportunities on the front nine, but I knew that every hole could be a birdie opportunity, so it was that mindset and I wanted to be aggressive.

“The 18th hole was a lot uglier than I would have liked to picture, but in the end it’s definitely nice to get the win this week.”

It was an excellent start to the 2023 season for Ko, who will now head to Thailand to play on the LPGA Tour.

But it wasn’t until her birdie on 17 that the two-time Major champion went into the outright lead, and she held on to win the Aramco Saudi Ladies International at Royal Greens for the second time.

“The scoreboard is right behind the green, so it was really hard to miss,” she explained. “I was more curious coming down the last because you could make eagle like Lilia [Vu] did yesterday, and so did Em [Pedersen].

“With this pin position I knew it would be tricky, but I just wanted to hit a couple of good shots. I had a really good second shot to set myself up for a wedge coming in. It was a little bit more stressful than I would’ve liked, but it doesn’t matter how you get it done.

“I’ve just been very grateful. A lot of great things happening, especially in the last few months again and again. You don’t know if this is real or not, but I’ve been trying to enjoy being out on the golf course!

“I’m playing with the world’s best. The field this week was really good, so I knew it was going to be a challenge. The first one of the year is really hard because you don’t have anything to base yourself off. You don’t know if you’re going to play well or badly.  The start definitely helped, I stayed really patient and I was not as nervous as I thought I would be.”

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One response to “74 for Maguire as Ko edges Ashok in Saudi thriller”

  1. Brian McNeill avatar
    Brian McNeill

    You could have mentioned Lydia Ko’s Irish caddy on her bag, David Jones

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