Leona hits heights to taste glory
LEONA Maguire won her second Irish Women's Close championship title in four years when she defeated fellow Curtis Cup team member Stephanie Meadow by two holes in a tremendous final at County Louth Golf Club.
Maguire (17) from Slieve Russell, and Meadow (20) of Royal Portrush, helped GB and Ireland win the Curtis Cup last Sunday week, but yesterday they were locked in battle with the blue riband of Irish women's golf at stake.
The Baltray course was altered slightly for the championship from a par 75 to par 73, but the two finalists were in par-busting mode over the first nine holes. Despite a strong southerly, Meadow and Maguire racked up four birdies each on that outward half.
Maguire made a positive start, winning the first hole with a par-four, and was three up after four holes, only to see her lead whittled back to all square after nine.
The second nine was closely fought all the way. They halved the 10th in par-fours, and crucially, Maguire grabbed a birdie four on the 11th to go one ahead.
They halved the next three and then the turning point came when Maguire won the 148-yard par-three 15th with a par to go two-up. Meadow retaliated with a win on the 16th to leave herself just one-down with two to play, but the match ended on the 18th after the Portrush player was in trouble off the tee.
In the semi-finals, Maguire beat Carla Reynolds (Seapoint) 3&1, while Meadow defeated Lucy Simpson (Massereene) 6&5.
• World No 1 amateur Patrick Cantlay has turned professional and is now a stablemate of Tiger Woods -- but the American's decision means he is no longer exempt for next month's British Open.
The 20-year-old American plays for money for the first time in this week's Travelers Championship, where his second round 60 last year was the lowest score ever recorded by an amateur in a PGA Tour event.