Sport Golf

Wednesday 17 July 2019

Maguire switches focus to Europe after falling short in Florida

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

Brian Keogh

Leona Maguire might have missed out at Stage II of the LPGA Tour Qualifying School but she will be back in action next month as she prepares for the Ladies European Tour Qualifying School.

The Slieve Russell star (23) missed out in agonising fashion in Florida on Thursday when she failed to make it to the Q-Series battle for 45 LPGA Tour cards by a single shot.

She shot a level-par 72 to finish in a nine-way tie for 42nd on one-over par at Plantation Golf & Country Club in Venice, where 33 qualified automatically on one-under and were joined by nine additional players who finished one shot outside the top 25 on level-par.

With 62 players already exempt for the new, two-event Q-Series at Pinehurst, where no more than 108 can tee it up from next week, the top 41 took the field to 103.

Maguire and the other eight players on one-over missed out as they would have taken the Q-Series field beyond 108 to 112.

It was a tough day for the Co Cavan star, who birdied the par-four eighth to get back to level for the day but could only manage a par five at the ninth, her final hole, as Korea's Kyung Kim (67) and Wales's Amy Boulden (73) led the qualifiers on 10-under.

"Naturally she's a little bit disappointed because she's such a competitor," her manager Mark McDonnell said yesterday. "But this is just the start for her."

Maguire didn't turn professional until June but had just 13 events to try and finish in the top 10 on the Symetra Tour who were awarded LPGA Tour cards.

While Stephanie Meadow finished sixth in the Order of Merit to win back her card, Maguire was 37th in the official final money list, missing three cuts but also recording two top-three finishes.

She's guaranteed her Symetra Tour card for 2019 and appears likely to concentrate mainly on the LPGA Tour's second-tier circuit next year, adding LPGA Tour starts when they come along.

Before that, the former amateur world No 1 will tee it up at the LET's new Andalucia Open de Espana at La Quinta in Marbella from November 22-25 and the final stage of the European circuit's Lalla Aicha Tour School in Morocco from December 16-20.

As for Lisa Maguire, who caddied for her twin sister this week, she will tee it up in pre-qualifying for the LET Qualifying School in Morocco next month with a view to playing in Europe next year.

Meanwhile, England's Ashley Chesters remained the man to catch in the Andalucia Masters, despite not hitting a single shot on a second weather-affected day at Valderrama.

After four hours were lost to stormy conditions on Thursday, two further delays yesterday meant half the field had yet to begin their second rounds. Play was due to resume at 0910 local time (0810 BST) today but with more bad weather forecast, the tournament could be extended until Monday or reduced to 54 holes.

Shane Lowry, who also saw no action, is on two -under, three behind Chesters, while Gavin Moynihan picked up two shots over his five holes to sit on even par.

Pádraig Harrington is one shot back after nine holes of his second round.

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