Putting masterclass propels Leona Maguire into joint-second at Galgorm Castle

Enormous 288-player field for men and women’s tournaments at ISPS Handa World Invitational

A masterclass in putting down the last three holes propelled Ireland’s Leona Maguire into joint-second place among a group of four players after the first round of the ISPS Handa World Invitational at Galgorm Castle in Co Antrim.

The DP World Tour, LPGA Tour and Ladies European Tour have come together for a tournament where the men and women compete in separate events for equal prize money with a winner’s purse of $250,000. The enormous 288-player field is split equally between men and women.

Maguire battled for the first 15 holes with her marksmanship off the tee but struck late with three birdies in the closing holes to go 5-under par, her 68 placing her just one shot off the leader American Amanda Doherty, who shot a 67.

Maguire went to the turn in 35 before shooting 33 for the back nine. A 30ft putt that dropped for the 27-year-old on the 16th started the hot finishing run, with birdies also on 17 and the par-5 18th hole for 23 putts in total for her round.


“It’s never ideal when you hit your first tee shot out of bounds,” said Maguire. “I didn’t hit enough fairways. I really didn’t feel comfortable over a lot of the tee shots. This course doesn’t suit my eye very well so it will be nice to have a little change of scenery tomorrow figure it out on the range and get ready to go again. If I added the ball striking of last week to the putting today, I would have been pretty happy.”

Maguire shot a 66 on Sunday during this year’s Open Championship at Muirfield. Her fourth placing was her best ever finish at a major event.

In the men’s event Ewen Ferguson pitched in at the final hole for a 61 and new course record. With eagles at 10 and 18 his nine-under par puts the Scottish player four shots ahead of the field after the first day. England’s Richard Bland and Borja Virto’s 65s gives them a share second place.

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson is a sports writer with The Irish Times