Leona Maguire nine off lead in Korea after level par second round

Leona Maguire is nine shots off the lead despite recovering from a slow start to card a level par 72 in the second round of the BMW Ladies Championship in South Korea.

he world No 45 bogeyed the first, second and 10th at LPGA International Busan to slip to one-over for the championship but then eagled the par-five 11th and birdied the par-three 16th to share 44th on two-under at halfway.

She’s nine strokes behind Korea’s Hee Jong Lim, who shot a bogey-free 66, and her compatriot, the overnight leader Na Rin An, who shot 69, to lead by a shot from American Danielle Kang (68) and Korea’s In Gee Chun (69) on 11-under.

Maguire must finish in the top six to keep alive her hopes of overhauling the absent Patty Tavatanaki the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year award with just two events remaining after this week.

Meanwhile, Olivia Mehaffey got off to a nightmare start at Stage II of the LPGA Qualifying School in Florida.

The Curtis Cup star birdied her opening hole on the Panther Course at Plantation Preserve but then followed five bogeys with a triple-bogey seven at her 17th and a closing bogey six to open with an eight-over 80.

She was tied 172nd in the no-cut event but to be eligible for LPGA Q-Series from November 29 to December 12 on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail in Alabama, a player must finish inside the top 45 and ties.

A total of 48 players shot one under or better on Thursday, while 70 players are even or better.

On the PGA Tour, Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama overcame cold and rain to card a two-under 68 and take a one-shot lead at halfway in the Zozo Championship in Japan.

Matsuyama shot a six-under 64 on the par-70 Narashino Country Club course trail compatriot Hiroshi Iwata by a shot, lead on eight-under from Cameron Tringale (66) with England’s Matt Wallace (69) finishing with three birdies to tie for third with Brendan Steele (68) on six-under.

Meanwhile, Ireland’s trio of hopefuls faces an uphill task heading into the final round at the Second Stage of the Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying School in the US.

Holywood’s Tom McKibbin is the best-placed, tied for 42nd on one-under after carding a one-under 71 in his third round at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Highland Oaks in Alabama.

McKibbin lies four strokes outside the top 20 and ties who will progress to next month’s Final Stage following today’s final round.

Portmarnock’s Conor Purcell is two strokes further back at the same venue, tied for 55th on one-over following a third-round 75.

The race looks run for The Island’s Paul McBride at the Plantation Preserve Golf and Country Club in Florida, where a third-round 74 left him 73rd on nine-over, 17 strokes outside the top 20 and ties who will progress.

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