Defending champion Maguire needing a big weekend at LPGA Drive On Championship

Ronan MacNamara
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Leona Maguire (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

Defending champion Leona Maguire finds herself six shots off the lead after a second round of 68 at the LPGA Drive On Championship in Arizona.

Moriya Jutanugarn, Maddie Szeryk and Jenny Shin share the top spot on twelve-under with Maguire in a share of 32nd place on six-under-par.

The Cavan native could have been a few shots closer to the lead had it not been for a damaging stretch on holes 11 and 12 where she went on a run of double bogey, bogey but aside from two blemishes, Maguire was in fabulous form, reeling off seven birdies on Friday.

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After picking up a birdie on the third, the defending champion burst into lift with three successive birdies from the sixth to turn in 31.

Maguire responded well from dropping three shots in two holes with a birdie on 13 and then two closing gains and she will need a low third round to keep her hopes of back-to-back titles alive.

Stephanie Meadow meanwhile backed up her opening 68 with a level-par 72 to ease into the weekend on four-under.

After a blemish free first round, the Jordanstown native carded four birdies and four bogeys in her first start of the season.

Both players have work to do if they are to trouble the top of the leaderboard over the Weeknd with. low scoring looking likely.

Shin of South Korea had a run of five straight birdies to close out her front nine on the way to a 5-under 67 on Friday and shared the lead with Maddie Szeryk of Canada and Moriya Jutanugarn of Thailand after two rounds of the LPGA Drive on Championship.

“The bogey on the first hole didn’t help,” the 30-year-old said. “I was like, ‘Oh, no. Here we go again.’ I stayed calm. I try not to get in my head too much. … So I didn’t know I was doing five in a row until I just checked the scorecard. So it’s a good thing that I didn’t know.”

Jutanugarn raced up the leaderboard, following an opening 67 with a bogey-free 7-under 65 that included an eagle and five birdies. Szeryk pieced together a round that included an eagle and six birdies, including one on her final hole, while Shin used seven birdies to offset two bogeys to get to 12-under 132 at Superstition Mountain Golf and Country Club in the LPGA’s first full-field event of the year.

“The next two days just trying to go out and have fun and do what I should do, what is under my control,” Jutanugarn said. “I think, of course, it’s more fun when you feel like you’re in contention.

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