Maguire excited for opening major despite losing to rampant Korda

Ronan MacNamara

(L-R)Nelly Korda and Leona Maguire (Photo by Orlando Ramirez/Getty Images)

Ronan MacNamara

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Leona Maguire believes her game is really close ahead of the opening major championship of the season next week despite falling to a 4&3 defeat to Nelly Korda in the T-Mobile Match Play.

Maguire might have been the number one seed in the matchplay but she was powerless against the undisputed world number one as Korda romped to a fourth straight LPGA Tour title – the first player to do so since Lorena Ochoa in 2008.

“Obviously, Nelly is the best player in the world right now, probably male or female,” Maguire said.

“She is playing unbelievable golf and I knew I was going to have to bring my A+ game if I was going to have a chance.

“Just didn’t putt well enough, and hats off to Nelly. She really didn’t give me much of a chance. Yeah, it’s very impressive what she’s doing.”

Korda took an early lead and wrestled control of the match with birdie on the fifth, sixth and seventh to go four up and while Maguire reduced the deficit to 3 on the 9th, the American was soon 5UP after 12 and counting down the holes.

Maguire gave herself a glimmer of hope with birdies on 13 and 14 to get back to 3DN but a bogey on 15 was the final nail in the coffin.

“Yeah, I just wanted to keep Nelly on the golf course for as long as possible,” Maguire said of her mini fightback. “I never give up. It’s something that I never do. I try to fight until the very end.

“Yeah, ultimately, it wasn’t good enough today. There are a lot of positives to take from the week, especially heading into Chevron in a couple of weeks’ time.”

The Cavan star has been trying to peak for a hectic summer schedule of five majors, the Olympics and the Solheim Cup and ahead of the Chevron Championship next week, she is feeling very upbeat about her game.

“Yeah, I mean, lots of positives,” she said after pocketing $187,584 (€173,000) to move up to ninth in the Race to CME Globe standings.

“Obviously, right now, it’s pretty disappointing to finish the way I finished, but it almost felt like two separate tournaments this week, the stroke play event and the match play event.

“To lead the stroke play around this golf course by three at the end of the three days was something I can take a lot of positives from and be very proud of.

“Nelly is the best player in the world for a reason. She brought her A-game today, and mine wasn’t good enough. Fair play to her for winning again this week.”

As for the Woodlands next week, she added: “Yeah, I feel like my game is really close. Obviously, I played some great golf this week. Hit some really nice shots. I just needed to putt a little bit better today.

“So I’ll work on that. I hear the greens at Chevron have been changed a little bit. Major championships ultimately come down to putting. A little bit of extra work on my putting and we should be in good shape.

“Ultimately, you know you’re going to have to make birdies if you want to beat her. Unfortunately, I didn’t make enough today.

“Hats off to her. She is an incredible player, and she is playing some great golf right now. All I could do is play my own game and that wasn’t good enough today.”

World number one Korda was delighted to get one over on Maguire after losing three times to her in Solheim Cup matches.

“It’s always nice to get a lead, kind of like a cushion in a sense,” Korda admitted. “But it’s Leona. She’s such a fiery competitor. I knew when I lost those two holes in a row, 13 and 14, that I really needed to put my foot down to finish the match off.

“It was kind of an interesting day. Leona hit some putts that she obviously normally wouldn’t, but I just stayed in my own bubble really.”

She added: “You know, Leona is such a great competitor. I’m pretty sure she has the winning edge on me when it comes to 1 v. 1 in Solheim Cup.

“I knew that today was going to be a battle, but hopefully this is a good preview for September.”

Korda now chases a record equalling fifth successive win at the Chevron next week.

“Yeah, gosh, I can’t even wrap my head around it, honestly.

“Such a whirlwind of the last three weeks. I just feel like I was just in go-mode constantly.

“Yeah, played really well today. Just stuck to my game plan of fairways and greens and made the least amount of mistakes.”

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