Leona Maguire pleased with level par after tough day

  • Golf: Leona Maguire cards a level par 71 in first round; Stephanie Meadow three over with five to play
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  • Equestrian: Bertram Allen, Darragh Kenny and Cian O’Connor in individual showjumping final at 11am


Leona Maguire shot a level par 71 in the first round of the women’s individual stroke play competition at the Kasumigaseki Country Club in Tokyo. On completion of her 18 holes, Maguire was four shots behind the clubhouse leader, USA’s Nellie Korda who shot a four under par 67.

Maguire birdied the fourth hole and bogeyed the fifth hole in sweltering conditions, then made par to the turn to go out in 36. Two birdies and two bogeys on the back nine secured her level par round, a score with which the 26-year-old was pleased.

“Yeah, I mean it was a bit of a mixed round I would say,” said Maguire. “Didn’t get the hang of my irons today. I felt like but made some good pars when I needed to keep myself going and keep myself in it, which is the most important thing on the first day. Stayed patient and it was nice to put up a birdie on 17 and par on 18.”

The course was set up long and Maguire consistently found herself a long way back off the tee, sometimes 50 yards, from playing partner Bianca Pagdanganan, who is one of the longest hitters on the women’s tour.

Temperatures were touching 35 degrees with the greens beginning to bake and getting faster as the day went on. Stephanie Meadow, the other half of the Irish team, went out in 37 and bogeyed the 10th and 11th holes to go to three over par. She still has five holes to play.

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But Maguire was pleased enough not to have allowed the field to race away too far into the distance. She made some good par saves from four and five feet on the back nine and got up and down from the greenside bunker on 18 to save par and keep her from going over par for the day.

“I think its fine,” she said of level par. “I don’t see anybody getting away from us today. Its set up longer than the men’s for us. We are going in with a lot longer clubs so it’s a case of trying to take your chances on the shorter holes and there are some tough par fours out there where par is a very good score.

“I felt I was a little unlucky in spots. There were a couple of shots that were maybe a foot of two off and I got punished for them. Maybe a few better breaks tomorrow. I mean we are used to going in with long clubs into the green, yeah, but there are some of those pins where you just have to take your medicine.”

Maguire said it was a different feel to her first Olympic Games in Rio 2016, where her caddy was sister Lisa. She was 21-years-old and still in Duke University and “watching the girls on TV” rather than playing against them.

Last she shot month a superb 61 on the final day of the Amundi Evian Championship in France, equalling the lowest round in women’s Major history. The Cavan golfer made 10 birdies – including four in a row to close out her round – to match the record set by South Korea’s Hyo Joo Kim at the same course in 2014.

“This week you’re part of something bigger than yourself,” said Maguire. “You saw that with the lads, with Shane and Rory. Rory in particular I think didn’t realise it until he was here and you are chatting to other athletes and cheering for them and they want to see you do well.

“It’s just a bit of a different feel. Representing your country is a great honour and doing it at the Olympics is the greatest honour there is.

“I’m probably less in awe of everybody here and focusing in on myself a bit more. These are the girls I am playing with week in week out, as opposed to Rio when they were the girls I watched on TV week in and week out so it has a bit of a different feel. At the same time they are just as good golfers as they were the last time, if not more. I would say the field is a lot stronger here than it was in Rio.”

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