Leona Maguire is four shots off the lead after day one of the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions as Brooke Henderson edged one ahead of Nelly Korda in Florida.
Maguire birdied her last hole to shoot a one-under 71 as she got her 2023 campaign underway on her tournament debut.
The Cavan native played from back to front and eased to the turn in 35 courtesy of a birdie on the 14th.
Maguire moved to two-under with a birdie on the par-5 2nd but stumbled in the middle of her back nine with two dropped shots in three holes before finishing well with a closing birdie on the par-5 9th to lie in a share of 9th place.
Canadian star Henderson carded six birdies and just one bogey in a five-under 67 as she raced out of the traps, going four under through ten holes before a fifth birdie of the day arrived on the 14th.
The two-time major champion gave a shot back on 17 but recovered with a birdie on 18 to edge ahead of world number two Korda.
“I’m really excited to be playing here this week. I always love this event. Playing with the celebrities is so much fun and the atmosphere is just always amazing with the fans, too,” she said.
“I always look forward to the event, and to be here is just awesome. I went through a lot of changes in the off-season, but all the clubs worked really well today, which is great, and shoot 5-under to start the season off feels really good.”
The world number seven picked up two wins in 2022 and she is full of confidence after getting out of the blocks early this week.
“Yeah, it does feel really good, and to get off to a hot start, that’s always a great feeling. Hopefully I can continue it the next three days, a lot of momentum, and lots of birdies. You really need to go low here if the conditions are going to stay as nice as they are.”
Ashleigh Buhai, Charley Hull, Gemma Dryburgh and Wei Ling Hsu are tied for third on three under and it’s team Taylormade at the top with the top-2 ladies recently penning new lucrative deals with the equipment manufacturer.
Nelly was pleased with her round and feels at ease with her new sticks, particularly her new irons as she hit 13/18 greens in regulation.
“Yeah, I started off pretty solid. I birdied 2 and 3. Kind of tugged a couple of my irons on par-3s today, so that saved a good up-and-down on 6 and then bogeyed No. 4, I think.
“Overall it was a pretty good day. New clubs, new season, kind of haven’t been playing, obviously, as much as I would in a season, but I’m happy with today’s round.”
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