Leona Maguire just three back after strong start to Tour Championship

Irish star includes eagle three in opening 67 at $5m season-ending tournament

Leona Maguire has done everything bar win this year, but she had to work hard to keep pace with the leaders by opening with a five-under 67 in the $5 million, season-ending CME Group Tour Championship in Florida on Thursday.

Teeing it up at Tiburón Golf Club in the season finale for the second year running, the Co Cavan star opened with four straight birdies on a low-scoring day before recovering from a bogey at the ninth with an eagle-three at the 17th.

She was tied 14th on five under par, just three shots behind South Korea's Jeongeun Lee6, who shot a bogey-free, eight-under 64 to top the 60-strong field by one stroke from compatriot Sei Young Kim, Americans Jennifer Kupcho and Mina Harigae and Maguire's former Duke team-mate Celine Boutier of France.

“It’s good to be back,” said Maguire, who played alongside Boutier on a day when windless conditions led to some hot scoring in the chase for the biggest first prize in women’s golf – $1.5 million (€1.32 million).


“That was the goal of the start of the year to be back here and I got off a really fast start this morning and birdied my first four holes, which was really nice. I holed a couple of good putts and hit some good shots in.

“Conditions were pretty much perfect for scoring with no wind and some of the tees pushed up, so you had to make as many birdies as you could.

“I stalled for a bit on the back nine, but it was nice to get that eagle coming in. You really have to take advantage today because it seems like everyone is going low pretty much. Celine was in the lead and playing some pretty nice golf, so it was just a case of trying to keep up with her as best I could.”

Maguire is ranked 17th in the Race to CME Globe standings and with spots in all the Majors all but guaranteed for 2022, she’s looking to challenge for that elusive first win.

“This week is kind of a bonus week and I’m trying to finish off the year as best I can,” the world number 45 said.

CME points leader and defending champion Jin Young Ko birdied two of her last three holes in a three-under 69 as world number one Nelly Korda, bidding for back-to-back wins and her fifth LPGA Tour victory this season, made eight birdies in a six-under 66 to lurk just two shots off the pace in a tie for sixth.


USA unless stated, par 72

64 Jeongeun Lee6 (Kor)

65 Celine Boutier (Fra), Jennifer Kupcho, Mina Harigae, Sei-Young Kim (Kor)

66 Gaby Lopez (Mex), Hannah Green (Aus), Min-Jee Lee (Aus), Nelly Korda, Som-Yeon Ryu (Kor), Thidapa Suwannapura (Tha), Wei Ling Hsu (Tai), Yuka Saso (Phi)

67 Alexis Thompson, Eun-Hee Ji (Kor), Georgia Hall (Eng), Leona Maguire (Irl), Megan Khang

68 Ally Ewing, Anna Nordqvist (Swe), Jessica Korda, Nanna Koerstz Madsen (Den), Paphangkorn Tavatanakit (Tha), Su-Hyun Oh (Aus)

69 Brittany Altomare, Charley Hull (Eng), Chella Choi (Kor), Hyo-Joo Kim (Kor), Ind-Gee Chun (Kor), Jin-Young Ko (Kor), Lauren Stephenson, Lydia Ko (Nzl), Madelene Sagstroem (Swe), Nasa Hataoka (Jpn), Stacy Lewis, Xiyu Lin (Chn)

70 Carlota Ciganda (Esp), Emma Talley, Esther Henseleit (Ger), Lizette Salas, Matilda Castren (Fin), Moriya Jutanugarn (Tha), Wichanee Meechai (Tha)

71 A-Lim Kim (Kor), Ariya Jutanugarn (Tha), Brooke Henderson (Can), Caroline Masson (Ger), Danielle Kang, Elizabeth Szokol, Yu Liu (Chn)

72 Amy Yang (Kor), Austin Ernst, Jenny Shin (Kor), Ryann O'Toole, Yealimi Noh

73 Jennifer Coleman, Pajaree Anannarukarn (Tha)

74 Amy Olson

77 Sophia Popov (Ger)

79 Angel Yin