Tuesday 6 December 2016

Leona Maguire 'very proud' of brilliant second place finish at British Masters

Brian Keogh

Published 06/07/2015 | 02:30

World amateur No 1 Leona Maguire was looking on the bright side despite agonisingly missing out on a chance to force a play-off for the Ladies British Masters at the Buckinghamshire
World amateur No 1 Leona Maguire was looking on the bright side despite agonisingly missing out on a chance to force a play-off for the Ladies British Masters at the Buckinghamshire

World amateur No 1 Leona Maguire was looking on the bright side despite agonisingly missing out on a chance to force a play-off for the Ladies British Masters at the Buckinghamshire.

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"It was a great week and, if someone offered me second place at the start of the competition, I'd have grabbed with both hands.

"It was a great opportunity to play against the best European Tour pros so I am delighted with my finish," said Leona - the biggest golfing sensation to emerge from Ireland since Rory McIlroy.

"It's a pity about the way it ended but I am happy with the week.

"I didn't make many bogeys - no more than one or two each day - and, if a few putts had dropped here or there, it would have made a big difference."

Scheduled to go back to Duke University in September, she has no plans to turn professional though she revealed that she's received an invitation for The Evian Championship from September 10-13, one of the five LPGA Majors, and may try to pre-qualify for the Women's British Open next Monday.

Four-under par for the day and needing a two to win and a par-three at the 173-yard 18th to match clubhouse leader Beth Allen of the United States on 12-under par, she found herself between clubs and confused by the swirling wind.

After a long debate with her father Declan, who was caddying, her four-iron flew through the green into the back bunker and she failed to get up and down for a par that would have forced a play-off.

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"I knew it was tight coming up 18 and we didn't really know where the wind was coming from," Leona said, after a 69 left her a shot behind the popular American Allen, who claimed her maiden title after 10 years as a professional.

"I thought it was downwind, Dad thought it was into the wind and it was probably the wrong club off the tee, but I'm very proud of the way I played all day."

Tied for fourth, four shots behind Germany's Caroline Masson starting the day, Leona birdied the second and third to get to 10 under and then followed a bogey at the fifth with a birdie at the eighth to turn for home within two shots of Allen, who stormed to the turn in 31 to snatch the lead.

As the American played the back nine in level par to set the target at 12 under, thanks to a closing five under 67, Leona birdied the 11th and bounced back from a bogey at the 13th with a birdie at the next.

A birdie chance slipped by from six feet at the 16th but she got up and down from the back bunker at the driveable 17th for birdie to match Allen, only to drop that crucial shot at the last.

"I wasn't that nervous and I hit a great shot - it was just the wrong club," said Leona.

Meanwhile, Bernd Wiesberger recorded a three-stroke victory in the French Open.

After play at Le National was halted for over an hour because of a raging thunderstorm, the Austrian fired a closing 65 for a 13-under par total of 271, leaving him clear of James Morrison who shot 67 for a total of 274.

On the PGA Tour, Danny Lee won the Greenbrier Classic in a four-way play-off over David Hearn, Robert Streb and Kevin Kisner. Tiger Woods finished tied 32nd, six shots off the leaders on seven under par.

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