Leona Maguire off to steady start with level-par 72 at AIG Women’s Open

Cavan golfer lies four shots off the early clubhouse lead at Walton Heath

Leona Maguire got off to a steady start at the AIG Women’s Open at Walton Heath on Thursday, carding a level-par 72 to sit four shots off the clubhouse lead.

With the heathland course playing long due to recent wet weather in the south of England, the field in the final women’s Major of the season are faced with a considerable challenge on the 6,700-yard layout, with the danger off the fairways coming in the Surrey course’s signature purple heather.

Maguire opened with six pars before dipping under par with a birdie three on the par-four seventh. The Cavan golfer handed that gain back at the ninth after a bogey four on the par three to turn in level par.

The 28-year-old went to one over after a bogey on the 14th but made amends at the par-five 16th when she played a fantastic third shot from the deep bunker that guards the right side of the green and rolled in a short birdie putt.


Commenting on that bunker shot after her opening round, Maguire said: “That’s probably the deepest one on the course, I could see absolutely nothing from down there so it was quite nice to see it run out and then always nice to have a short birdie putt on these greens.”

Overall, Maguire was happy with her morning’s work as she chases a first Major title.

“Yeah, it was pretty steady for the most part. I think any time you open with level par in a Major you’re usually pretty happy. It played long to start, a lot of woods early on, so it’s hard to find a lot of birdies out there. So overall pretty steady and we’ll go again tomorrow.”

After recording a second LPGA title at the Meijer Classic back in June, Maguire also led the field going into the final round of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Baltusrol the following week before falling away over the final 18 holes But far from letting it get to her, Maguire feels she’s learned a valuable lesson for the future is she gets into contention at a Major.

“This is obviously the last Major of the year, so it’s be nice to finish off the Majors season in style and my game’s been in good shape this year. So just trying to put myself in contention as much as I can, I learned a lot from Baltusrol, at the PGA, so trying to give myself one last chance this week.

“I think Majors require a lot of mental energy, just as much as physical, and I probably underestimated how much the win the week before [at the Meijer Classic] took out of me and was probably too overkeen with practice and everything and kind of just ran out of steam by the time Sunday came around. But [I gained] a lot of confidence at the same time from knowing that I could be up there and in the lead for four rounds of a Major, just need to put the four together now.”

Maguire played alongside Swedish star Anna Nordqvist, the 2021 winner of the Women’s Open That was the last of the 36-year-old’s three Major titles and she matched Maguire’s opening 72, her round containing three birdies and three bogeys. Two-time Major champion, Jin Young Ko of South Korea, made up the three-ball and opened with a one-over 73.

Ally Ewing of the United States made an eagle on the par-five 16th to take a one-shot clubhouse lead after an opening four-under 68 that also included five birdies and three bogeys.

Portrush’s Stephanie Meadow made it to the turn in one under with eight pars and a birdie on the seventh, but dropped back over par with bogeys on the 11th and 15th.

The 31-year-old bounced back in fine fashion over the closing holes with back-to-back birdies on the 16th and 17th to sign for a one-under 71.