Leona Maguire Makes History on LPGA Tour
IRELAND'S Leona Maguire wrote herself into the history books by becoming the first Irish golfer to win a title on the LPGA Tour when she claimed the Drive On Championship at the Crown Colony Golf & Country Club.
She finished on 18 under par to win by three shots ahead of Lexi Thompson. A final round of five-under 67 in the 54-hole competition saw Maguire secure her maiden title.
She had gone into the last day of the event tied for the lead with American Marina Alex.
They were four strokes clear of Brittany Altomare, Stacy Lewis and Sweden's Linnea Johansson, but the Irishwoman pulled away on the back nine with a majestic display of ball-striking.
Maguire, who was a star for Europe at the 2021 Solheim Cup, shot six birdies during her third and final round to seize the lead and hold on for victory.
A birdie at the second set the tone for a superb all-round performance in blustery conditions in the US.
"It is a bit surreal, it has been a long time coming," Maguire said. "I was feeling really calm today, I wasn't nervous and just went about my business. I felt like the course played tougher but I hit some nice iron shots that came in handy.
"I have a lot of people to thank and it's been a long road, but it's probably more relief than anything else.
"I suppose you don't know it's going to happen until it actually does," said the 27-year-old.
"I tried to just stay really patient today. Didn't get ahead of myself. I wanted to go out and just shoot a number."
Maguire pulled clear with five birdies in the space of seven holes from the seventh.
"I didn't want anybody to have to hand it to me," added Maguire.
"I wanted to go out and win it myself and earn it. Yeah, just really proud of the way I played today."
Maguire began the back nine with back-to-back birdies to lead by three over Alex and Thompson, who charged into contention with birdies at the fifth and sixth holes 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 edge 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 is a first title win for a golfer who has recorded two second-places and four top 10 finishes on the LPGA Tour as she finished last year ranked 43rd in the world.
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