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Maguire full of confidence as she chases European card



Leona Maguire: Missed out by a stroke. Photo: Getty Images

Leona Maguire: Missed out by a stroke. Photo: Getty Images

Leona Maguire: Missed out by a stroke. Photo: Getty Images

Leona Maguire will be gunning for birdies and her Ladies European Tour card when she begins the 90-hole Lalla Aicha Tour School marathon in Morocco tomorrow.

The Slieve Russell star (24) is brimming with confidence after finishing second on 17-under par in pre-qualifying.

"Seventeen-under is the lowest I've ever shot for four rounds, so it was a nice feeling," said Maguire, who will play two rounds at both Amelkis Golf Club and Palm Golf Ourika in Marrakesh before the top 60 and ties battle for 25 cards at Amelkis in Thursday's fifth round.

While the Cavan star already has a Symetra Tour card in the US, she's keen to give herself options in Europe too and earn Category 5c membership with a top-five finish.

"My game's in good shape and playing on the Amelkis Course was great preparation," said Maguire.

"I played a practice round at Palm Golf Ourika for the first time on Wednesday and it's certainly a very different course.

"It's longer and there probably aren't as many birdie opportunities. There's still a premium on iron play and putting though, as the greens are quite slopey, so we will have two very different golf courses to play on."

On the European Tour, Gavin Moynihan brought down the curtain on an eventful 2018 when he missed the two-over cut by two shots in the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek.

He bounced back strongly from his opening 78 with a two-under 70 but was left to rue his seven-over-par front nine on Thursday.

"The next 27 holes were very good," said Moynihan, who hopes to begin 2019 in Dubai or Saudi Arabia before playing two events in Australia.

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"I played well today and it could have been a low one, but I missed a few putts,"

Old Conna's Neil O'Briain shot a 75 to finish three strokes further back on seven-over as American David Lipsky fired a six-under 66 to lead by a shot on eight-under.

In the Asian Tour's weather-delayed BNI Indonesian Masters, Thailand's Poom Saksansin shot 63 to lead by a shot in the clubhouse on 14-under.

Defending champion Justin Rose, who needs a top-12 finish to ensure he's world No 1 in January, was a shot further back after a brace of 68s with Muskerry's Niall Turner on the level-par cut line after a 73.

On the Staysure Tour, the season-ending MCB Tour Championship - Seychelles was reduced from 54 to 48 holes after heavy rain forced a five-hour delay at Constance Lemuria.

Former Open champion Tom Lehman played his 12-hole opening round in three-under 42 to lead by one shot.