Meadow moves into top-20 as Maguire falters at AIG Women’s Open

Mark McGowan

Stephanie Meadow all smiles (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

Stephanie Meadow’s hopes of securing a high finish that would move her up the LPGA’s Race to CME Globe rankings got a considerable boost when she fired a two-under 70 on moving day at the AIG Women’s Open at Walton Heath.

Rounds of one-under and two-over had left her tied for 47th after 36 holes, but with playing conditions proving difficult once again at the Surrey heathland course, anything under par was sure to see her move in the right direction.

But bogey-fives on two and four was not the start she was looking for and it appeared that hanging on would be the order of the day. But resilience is never in short supply when it comes to the Jordanstown woman who’s repeatedly shown her fighting spirit and she fought back once again by birdieing the par-5 sixth and made the turn at +1 for the day with no real ground lost.


But it was on the back nine that she came alive, picking up successive strokes on the par-5 11th and par-4 12th, and she’d add another birdie at the par-5 16th to go bogey-free on the back side and sign for a two-under 70 that saw her climb almost 30 places on the leaderboard to T17.

“Who knows, depends on the weather,” Meadow said afterwards when asked how she thought she’d shape up coming into the final round. “But I’m very happy with what I did today and I’ll just keep thinking about the same things, and yeah, see where we end when it’s all said and done.”

A T3 at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship is Meadow’s best result of the season, and she’s shaping up for another stellar major performance this week.

“Yeah, absolutely,” she replied when asked if she particularly enjoyed competing on the big stage. “I think I love days like today where you can shoot around par and move up a ton. I think it separates — well, not separates, everybody is strong out here. But if you have a great mindset out here today, you’ll do well because it’s hard to just erase your nerve really quickly.

“Happy with how I handled myself and just keep going forward.”

Leona Maguire, who started one stroke better off than her compatriot, wasn’t able to match Meadow’s exploits, and though she’d manage to get into red figures herself courtesy of back-to-back birdies on 10 and 11 after bogeying the fourth, three dropped shots over her closing seven holes sees her lie tied for 40th at +2 for the tournament.

Runaway 36-hole leader Ally Ewing struggled in the early stages bogeying three of her opening nine before finally getting back on the birdie train at the short 10th. By that stage, she’d already been caught by Lilia Vu who replied to an early bogey with three birdies on the spin and added another brace at 10 and 11.

Ewing took sole possession of the lead once again with a birdie at the par-5 11th, but she’d play the closing seven in two over to relinquish top spot and Vu would move to -9 where she’d be joined by home favourite Charley Hull who’d play the final four holes in three-under and the duo will form the final pairing in Sunday’s final round.

Hull would obviously prove an extremely popular winner with the home crowd and afterwards she admitted that emulating fellow Englishwoman Georgia Hall by claiming major glory on home soil would be a dream come true.

“Yeah, you ask anyone that, it would be unbelievable,” she said. “It would be absolutely unbelievable, what Georgia done in 2017, or 2018, I can’t remember what it was, that was unbelievable. To do that again would be unreal. But one step at a time and just go out there and have fun.”

American Angel Yin and Korea’s Hyo Joo Kim trail by a single stroke, with Ewing and Linn Grant at -7 and -6 respectively.

Maguire gets her final round underway at 10:15 am in the company of Yuri Yoshida, while Meadow tees off at 12:45 with A Lin Kim. The final pairing won’t begin their rounds until 2:20pm.


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