Leona Maguire’s ‘Rookie of the Year’ hopes end after finishing in BMW pack as Jin Young Ko regains world No 1 spot

Leona Maguire fell two spots to 16th in the Race to CME Globe standings and saw her slim chances of winning the Louise Suggs Rookie of the Year title disappear at the BMW Ladies Championship in South Korea.

he Co Cavan star made two birdies and three bogeys in a second successive one-over 73 to tie for 61st on even par.

She picked up $4,448 but fell two spots to 16th in the Race to CME Globe standings and also missed out on the top six finish she needed to keep ‘Rookie of the Year’ leader Patty Tavatanakit in her sights with just two events of the season remaining.

The title went to South Korea’s Jin Young Ko, who closed with a bogey-free, eight-under 64 to close a four-shot deficit on 54-hole leader Hee Jeong Lim, who shot 68.

They tied on 22-under 266 before Ko birdied the first extra hole to win back-to-back wins and leapfrog Nelly Korda at the top of the world rankings.

“I thought, going into the fourth round, that if I give it my best shot, that I would have a shot at winning,” said Ko, who made six birdies to turn in 30 before picking up two more birdies on the back nine.

“I wasn’t that nervous going into the playoff. I think I was feeding off the confidence I had during the round.

“When I was heading to the tee ground, I turned to Dave and I told him that this was my first playoff ever, and he smiled, and he said, ‘Welcome.’ And that helped me ease those nerves.”

As for the world rankings, Ko was No. 1 from July 2019 to June 2021, a streak of 100 consecutive weeks. She was also World No. 1 for 12 weeks in early 2019.

“I wasn’t too conscious, actually, of the ranking. I always feel if your game is in good form and you keep at it, you can reach that ranking,” said Ko. “I felt if I kept at it and worked hard this year I might have a chance within this year. So I did return to that spot earlier than I expected. I’m going to do my best so that I can maintain that position.”

At Stage II of the LPGA Qualifying School in Venice in Florida, Olivia Mehaffey goes into today’s final round 12 strokes outside the top 45 who will progress to the Q-Series next month and battle for LPGA and Symetra Tour cards.

The Royal County Down Ladies’ star got off to a horror start with an eight-over 80 on the Panther Course at Plantation Golf & Country Club and while she’s since added rounds of 74 and 72 on the Bobcat Course, she’s tied 154th on 10-over par.

China’s Ruoning Yin leads by a shot from Pauline Roussin-Bouchard of France on 13 under with the top 45 on two-under or better.

Meanwhile, Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama (29) made eagles at the sixth and 18th as he closed with a five-under 65 to win the PGA Tour’s Zozo Championship in his native Japan.

He finished five strokes clear of Cameron Tringale (69) and Brendan Steele (66) to claim his seventh PGA Tour win on 15-under par, hitting a three wood to 12 feet at the par-five 18th.

Asked when he felt comfortable he had won, Matsuyama said: “Probably my second shot at 18, that was probably the clincher.”

England’s Matt Wallace (70) tied for fourth with Canadian Mackenzie Hughes and Colombia’s Sebastian Muñoz on six-under after a 70 with Tommy Fleetwood (70) tied seventh with Open champion Collin Morikawa (69), 10 shots behind the winner.

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