LEONA Maguire is maybe six shots behind Japan’s Hinako Shibuno midway through, but she believes the best is yet to come as she chases her first Major win at the Chevron Championship in California.
The Co Cavan star battled challenging afternoon conditions at Mission Hills Country Club in Palm Springs but carded a three-under 69 with no bogey to move up to 20th place with three-under par.
Shibuno, dubbed the smiling Cinderella when she won the 2019 AIG Women’s Open, finished the week’s low round with a six-under 66.
She leads by one shot to nine under par ahead of Americans Annie Park (67) and Jennifer Kupcho (70) and defending champion Patty Tavatanakit (69) from Thailand.
With the winner for the past 11 years always coming halfway out of the top three, Maguire has her work cut out.
After playing in the more difficult late afternoon conditions on Friday and moving up the rankings, she is hoping to take advantage of an earlier start time today and close the gap on the leaders.
“I feel like I haven’t quite gotten it going yet,” Maguire said last night. “I played really well today and drove the ball really well and putted a little better today so I’ll just try to give myself a few more chances over the weekend.
“I didn’t putt well at all yesterday. I drove well and gave myself a couple of good chances, but I didn’t hole any putts and I missed a few short ones too, so today was a lot better.”
For the second day in a row, the score was low as the entire field was separated by just 10 shots.
Stephanie Meadow made the cut at the one-over-par mark after adding a flat par 72 to her first 73.
“It’s very nice out there,” said Maguire, who made a birdie two on fifth and eighth and added another shot on the eleventh par-five.
“It’s a real golf course; It’s a big championship course and you have to hit the ball well.
“The greens definitely firmed up this afternoon so it was a lot harder to get to the flags, especially on the back nine.”
She nearly potted her tee shot on the par 3 of the 17th, but ran just wide of the green and had to settle for the par there before her wedge shot on a front pin on the 18th ran to the back of the green.
“Some of the downwind pins were really hard to stop,” added Maguire. “Hopefully tomorrow I can get out earlier and reap the benefits because it’s definitely easier in the morning I’d say.
“It’s a bit calmer and the greens are more receptive so it’s nice to play my best round in the afternoon considering it was probably a bit more difficult today.”
Maguire will be closer to the leaders than the back of the pack at 12:21pm local time (8:21pm Irish time) with South Korea’s Amy Yang.
“I’m just going to try to play golf,” she said of her game schedule. “Hit fairways and greens and try to hole as many putts as possible.
“I’m obviously pretty far behind at this point but a lot can still happen before Sunday so I’ll just try to give myself real chances.”
https://www.independent.ie/sport/golf/leona-maguire-six-back-at-opening-major-but-warns-leaders-i-feel-like-i-havent-fully-got-it-going-yet-41513363.html Leona Maguire six back in Major opening but warns executives – ‘I feel like I haven’t fully gotten it going yet.’