Friday 24 May 2019

On-fire Maguire edges closer to her Tour card


Marcus Kinhult of Sweden celebrates holing a putt for victory on the 18th green on the final day of the British Masters. Photo: Andrew Redington/Getty Images
Marcus Kinhult of Sweden celebrates holing a putt for victory on the 18th green on the final day of the British Masters. Photo: Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Brian Keogh

Leona Maguire took another giant step towards winning her LPGA Tour card after a Maria Parra eagle at the fifth extra hole denied her a second win of the season in Atlanta.

The Co. Cavan star (25) looked to be playing for a top-five finish in the IOA Invitational when she went into the final round seven strokes off the pace.

However, she closed with a bogey-free, five-under 67 to make a four-way play-off with Spain's Maria Parra, Chinese Taipei's Ssu-Chia Cheng and American Madison Pressel on six-under par, only losing out to the Spaniard's eagle three on the fifth tie hole of a marathon play-off.

"If you'd told me this morning I would be in a play-off after being seven shots back at the start of the day, it was just a bonus," said Leona, who qualified for the US Women's Open last Monday and now has a win, a runner-up finish and another three top-fives from her last five starts worldwide.

"I was pretty tired coming into this week, so just wanted to try and play some solid golf. Maria played some incredible golf in the play-off, and I couldn't really do much more than that."

Maguire went birdie-birdie-birdie on three trips down the par-five 18th and with Cheng eliminated, the trio parred the par-four first before Parra followed Leona's chip and putt birdie on their fourth trip down the 18th with a winning eagle, as Pressel made bogey.

"I think we put a show on for the people still here," said Maguire, who picked up $11,030 to remain second in the money list with $47,549, just $2,000 behind leader Julieta Granada with the top-10 awarded LPGA Tour cards at the end of the season.

On the European Tour, Sweden's Marcus Kinhult (22) held off the chasing pack to win his first European Tour title at the Betfred British Masters at Hillside. After dropping shots at the 15th and 16th, he birdied the final two holes to card a two-under 70 and win by one stroke from defending champion Eddie Pepperell, Matt Wallace and Scot Robert MacIntyre on 16-under,

There was a four-way tie when Kinhult and Wallace stood on the 18th tee, but the Swede converted from eight feet to claim his maiden title. Michael Hoey was joint 30th on six-under and the out-of-sorts Paul Dunne 70th on level par, both after closing 70s.

At the weather-delayed Byron Nelson in Dallas, Pádraig Harrington was on course for a top-20 finish after his final round of six-under-par 66 saw him finish on 15-under par.

On the Challenge Tour, France's Antoine Rozner became the first back-to-back winner for seven years. He shot a 68 and raced to a seven-stroke victory on 17-under at the Prague Golf Challenge, as Ardglass man Cormac Sharvin, two behind overnight, finished nine adrift after a disappointing 75.

Tramore's Robin Dawson rallied with a 69 to claim a share of 12th on seven-under, but Derry's Ruaidhrí McGee shot 77 to finish 57th.

In amateur golf, England's Lily May Humphreys (17) romped to a six-stroke victory in the Irish Women's Open Strokeplay at Baltray and set her sights on an LPGA Tour future. Just seven days after securing the Welsh Women's Open Stroke Play at Royal St. David's, the Curtis Cup player closed with a one-under 73 to win on 10-under par 212 from the Netherlands' Romy Meekers.

Veteran Deirdre Smith, the former Irish Women's Close champion from the host club, was an impressive fifth on one-under after a 74.

Irish Independent

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