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Maguire and Harrington poised for weekend shootouts

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Pádraig Harrington plays his second shot on the fifth hole during the second round of The AVIV Dubai Championship at Fire Course, Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai. Photo: Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Pádraig Harrington plays his second shot on the fifth hole during the second round of The AVIV Dubai Championship at Fire Course, Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai. Photo: Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Pádraig Harrington plays his second shot on the fifth hole during the second round of The AVIV Dubai Championship at Fire Course, Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai. Photo: Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Leona Maguire dug deep at the finish and birdied two of her last four holes to remain in the hunt for her maiden LPGA Tour victory at the Pelican Women’s Championship in Florida.

But there was an even more gusty display from Stephanie Meadow, who carded an incredible 18 pars in a row in a second successive 70 to make the cut on the mark as she battles to keep her card.

Meadow is 101st in the Race to CME Globe standings, and she may need a top-30 finish in Tampa to make the top 100 who keep their cards and avoid a trip to the Q-Series.

As Meadow battles for her livelihood, her Olympic team-mate Maguire will be trying to make history and become the first Irishwoman to win on the LPGA Tour. Following an eight-under 62 with another low round was always going to be a challenge, but while she holed little, Maguire chiselled out a two-under 68 at Pelican Golf Club near Tampa to go into the weekend tied for third on 10-under par.

The Co Cavan star is just one stroke behind Lexi Thompson and former college rival Jennifer Kupcho, who carded six-under 64s to top the leaderboard on 11-under.

“I felt like I played nice,” Maguire said. “I didn’t hole putts like I did yesterday; hit some really good approach shots and didn’t quite take advantage.”

With the top 14 on the leaderboard covered by just four shots, she added: “I think it’s going to be probably a shootout at the weekend. It’s just a case of trying to make as many birdies as you can and keep your foot down; see where it stands at the end of the weekend.”

Pádraig Harrington also needs birdies in Dubai if he’s to clinch a spot in next week’s DP World Tour Championship.

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The veteran (50) hasn’t played in the season-ending event since 2016, but after following his opening 68 in AVIV Dubai Championship with a five-under 67 to share 17th on nine-under, he’s on track to secure the top-seven finish he calculates he needs to make the top 51 in the Race to Dubai who qualify.

“The thing is you just have to keep the foot down on the birdie pedal as this course is all about making birdies,” said the three-time Major winner, who lies just six shots behind defending champion Antoine Rozner despite three-putting three times. “So if I can shoot a similar nine-under or better over the weekend, I should be okay.”

Playing alongside Harrington, Rozner added a 64 to his opening 65 to lead by a shot from Denmark’s Joachim B Hansen and Italy’s Francesco Laporta on 15-under par.

Clandeboye’s Jonathan Caldwell will need to finish at least fifth to make it to the Earth Course next week, and while he was 47th in six-under, eight shots outside the top five, he recovered from a double-bogey at the 14th with three birdies in his last four holes in an eight-birdie round.

Meanwhile, Shane Lowry was in danger of missing back-to-back cuts for the first time in over a year in the weather-delayed Hewlett Packard Enterprise Houston Open. Resuming on two-under-par with eight holes of his first round to complete, the Offaly man got to three-under playing the 18th but had to settle for a 69 after a closing double bogey. He went back out and double-bogeyed the 13th, his fourth, and triple-bogeyed the 17th en route to a three-over 73 that left him a shot outside the projected cut line on two-over.

Seamus Power birdied three of his last five holes as followed a 75 with a 70 to finish on five-over as Martin Trainer carded back to back 65s to lead by a shot from Kevin Tway on 10-over.

Meanwhile, Simon Bryan tied for fifth on five-under with James Sugrue 27th on level par as they secured Category 6 cards at the Alps Tour Qualifying School near Rome. The qualifying mark for the top 35 and ties fell at one-over with Kerry’s Michael Young (three-over) Kilkenny’s Luke Donnelly (six-over) earned Category 8 membership.

Dubai Championship

Live, Sky Sports, 8.0am

Houston Open

Live, Sky Sports, 6.0pm

Pelican Women’s Championship,
Live, Sky Sports Golf, 6.0pm


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