Magnificent Maguire secures breakthrough win on LPGA Tour – Golf News

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Leona Maguire has become the first player from Ireland to win on the LPGA Tour after securing the Drive On Championship by three shots.

The 27-year-old from in Northern Ireland hit seven birdies in a closing five-under-par 67 at the Crown Colony Golf & Country Club in Florida to finish three shots clear of nearest challenger Lexi Thompson. 

Maguire entered the final round of the 54-hole tournament tied for the lead with Marina Alex, but they were four strokes clear of Brittany Altomare, Stacy Lewis and Sweden’s Linnea Johansson.  

But Maguire pulled clear with five birdies in the space of seven holes from the seventh with a majestic display of ball-striking.

Thompson charged into contention with birdies at the fifth and sixth and a birdie-eagle-birdie run at the ninth to 11th holes. Thompson and Alex birdied the 13th, but Maguire did the same to restore her three-stroke lead and bogeys by Alex at 15 and Thompson at 16, plus a birdie for Maguire at 16, allowed the Irish star to cruise down the stretch, able to finish with a bogey at 18 and still win comfortably.

“It has been a long time coming,” Maguire said after clinching her win, which came with first prize of $225,000. “I was feeling really calm, I wasn’t nervous and just went about my business. I felt like the course played tougher, but I hit some nice iron shots. I have a lot of people to thank and it’s been a long road, but it’s probably more relief than anything else.”

Maguire’s breakthrough victory came in her 50th LPGA start with the Cavan native having long been tipped for success after spending 135 weeks as the women’s world amateur number one before turning pro in 2018. She earned her LPGA Tour card ahead of the 2020 season and steadily rose through the rankings before breaking into the top 100 in April last year. Last year, she came close to securing her first win, finishing second to Nelly Korda at the Meijer Classic in June.

“I feel like the way I’ve gone about it, I’ve been prepared at each level and mastered each level,” she added.  “I know people probably thought I was going to win before this. I was maybe getting a little impatient last year, but I think going down the stretch at Meijer last year with Nelly was a huge confidence boost for me. As was shooting 61 at Evian too, and playing in the the Solheim Cup.”

On the support she’s been receiving from people back in Ireland, she added: “They’ve been rallying behind me, and that’s something that I’ll be truly grateful. It’s always an honour to represent Ireland no matter where you go. To see people excited about women’s golf and Irish golf is fantastic.”

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