With just five events of her rookie LPGA Tour season remaining, Leona Maguire is 52nd in the money list and pushing for a big finish with the US Women's Open and the CME Group Tour Championship at the top of her hit list. As for the distance debate, she's not worried about the big hitters and is inspired by seven-time Major winner Inbee Park that great iron play and putting is still a winning recipe on the LPGA Tour.
It's been a strange rookie year on the LPGA Tour and a lot more stressful than any other year with all the extra protocols and testing for Covid-19.
However, it has been great to be back out competing on the course, and we are all trying to make the most of the events that we have left this season. After a long break from competitive tour golf, I was really excited to compete again but at the same time I was conscious not to put too much pressure on myself. I have had some strong finishes, and I am looking forward to gaining some momentum this week as we move into the last few events of the season.
I am definitely finding my feet on the LPGA Tour and getting the hang of the golf courses too, so hopefully, that will set me up nicely for a full season next year.
What pleases me most is that I have qualified for all the Majors so far, which was the big goal at the start of the year. We have five events left to play including the US Women's Open and the CME Group Tour Championship at the end of the season. I am in position to qualify for both, so it's all about finishing strongly now.
I spent my off-week last week practising in Orlando, the weather was ideal and I was really happy with my game prep for a new event this week, the LPGA Drive On Championship, not too far from Atlanta.
After Georgia, we have three weeks off before the last four events of the year, and I'd planned to fly home to switch off a little bit and not always be on high alert. But with the restrictions in place, it may be riskier for me to come home than stay here, so I am going to have to weigh it up over the next few days and make a decision.
My other big news is that I changed my putting style after the Cambia Portland Classic last month. If you caught some of the coverage of the ShopRite LPGA Classic or the KPMG Women's PGA you might have spotted that I was putting cack-handed for the first time. Going left hand below right with the putter grip is something that my coach Shane O'Grady has been persuading me to try for a number of years. There have been multiple times where we have been on the putting green at Black Bush, and he has pleaded with me to stick at it, but I was always hesitant.
I was getting a bit frustrated missing putts so I decided it might be worth changing my routine and testing the method out at the Shoprite. It was pretty good for the first week, and I finished 24th, so I will stick with it until Shane gets to see it in the flesh. I know people don't like it for long putts, but with the greens being so fast over here, it's not really much of a concern. It's worked pretty well so far.
The KPMG Women's PGA at Aronimink was certainly challenging. I played really solidly over the first few days, but struggled a little bit over the weekend. There were lots of positives from the week, and I was happy with my play on Sunday to close out the weekend. I had lots of birdie chances throughout the week and I am hoping that I can carry my strong iron play into the final stretch of events. Major week set-ups are always particularly challenging, the golf courses are designed to test every element of your game, but I relish the opportunity to test my game in those conditions. I've played all the Majors so far this year and what I've learned is that I have to have a good game plan for them and stick to it. They always tend to be on the longer side and with a lot of pins tucked away, you have to be quite disciplined about which ones you go for.
I played with former World Number One Inbee Park at the ANA Inspiration, and it was interesting to watch her go about her business with all the talk these days about hitting it far.
She is not the longest - she hits it 240 yards - so she is definitely shorter than me. But it is interesting to see how she plots her away around and she putts incredibly well.
It was no shock she was up there again in the KMPG PGA making a charge on Sunday on a golf course that a lot of people had written her off on. Everyone likes to put a premium on distance, but she still does a very good job at managing these very tough golf courses without necessarily hitting it all that far. It reiterates that good iron play and putting can make up for a lot.
Over the past few months I have seen out on the LPGA that there is still a premium on accuracy and short game. I will continue to work on building some strength and speed to add a few extra yards to my game but it is not my sole focus. I will always rely on the strengths of my own game and seek to maximise my full potential in my own unique way. Inbee Park has won seven Majors and an Olympic gold medal. She knows how to get it done without hitting it 300 yards+ so this truly proves that there is no single winning formula.
Now it's up to me to get it done over the next few weeks, I am excited and looking forward to the challenge. Fingers crossed I'll be home for Christmas having achieved all my goals. Until then, stay safe.
Leona Maguire is an Official Ambassador for the 20x20 Women in Sport Campaign