Leona Maguire heads to this week’s KPMG Women’s PGA with a spring in her step after she forced world No 4 Nelly Korda sweat blood to clinch her fifth LPGA Tour win Meijer LPGA Classic in Michigan.
he Co Cavan star went into the final round three shots adrift after Korda blasted a 10-under 62 in the third round at Blythefield Country Club in Grand Rapids.
But she took the fight right to the 18th, where Korda made a clutch birdie four to her par five, closing with a five-under 67 to her bogey-free 66 to clinch her second runner-up finish and her fourth top-10 of the season on 23-under par.
“Nelly is one of the best players in the world and went toe to toe with her pretty much all of today,” said Maguire (26) who moves up to 13th in the Race to CME Globe Points list and right into contention for a Solheim Cup debut in September.
“I knew it was going to be a battle. I knew I had a lot of golf in front of me and she had a three-shot head start.
“This week is going to be huge heading into a major. I knew I was playing some great golf. It’s a huge confidence boost for the rest of the season.
“I’m really proud of how I played all week. Hit some great golf shots when I needed to do. I also got off to a really nice start, which I have been doing, and backing it up with three more solid rounds after that.”
Korda (22) saw her three-shot lead disappear after just four holes as Maguire birdied the second third and fourth.
But the American steadied the ship with a birdie at the sixth and while Maguire levelled matters at the eighth, Korda birdied the 10th and 11th to go two clear again.
Korda bogeyed the 12th to see the lead reduced to just one again but made a slick 12 footer for eagle at the 14th to stretch her lead to two strokes, then knocked in a 20 footer for a two at the 15th to lead by three.
Korda’s three putt to the Slieve Russell star’s birdie at the 16th set up a dramatic finish. But Maguire couldn’t make a 25 footer for eagle at the last and after Korda got up and down for birdie and victory, she missed a short birdie putt for a 65.
“Really proud of how I fought this week, and same in San Francisco last week,” the Slieve Russell star said. “Just didn’t give myself quite enough in the end. Nelly is a great player and I’m very proud of myself.”
A relieved Korda said: “Leona’s a really good player. Honestly, she kept me on my toes all day. You know, I had to play good golf. There were a lot of birdie opportunities out here.
“I started off a little rough not hitting many fairways, but kept telling myself to battle through it and just to have fun out here.”