Leona Maguire records third straight top 10 with fourth place in Open de Espana

Irish woman finishes behind Sweden’s Caroline Hedwall in season-ending event

Leona Maguire got tantalisingly into contention when moving into a share of the lead through four holes of the final round of the Open de Espana, the season-ending event on the Ladies European Tour, but ultimately had to settle for a fourth placed finish as Sweden’s Caroline Hedwall rediscovered the art of winning.

Hedwall, a four-time Solheim Cup player for Europe, eventually beat Switzerland’s Morgane Metraux at the fourth hole of a sudden-death play-off to capture her seventh career win on the LET and first since the French Open four years ago, after finishing with a 67 for an 18-under-par total of 274.

Maguire, in the 26th tournament of a long season, signed for a 69 for 276 to finish in solo fourth, while Linn Grant made it double delight for the Swedes in wrapping up the LET order of merit title.

A birdie on the fourth moved Maguire into a four-way share of the lead at that point but could convert again until the 12th by which time she was playing catch-up and couldn’t close the gap. For Maguire, ranked 11th in the world, the finish was her third straight top-10 – coming on the back of 10th in the Pelican and a runner-up finish in the CME Globe LPGA Tour Championship – and completed a fine year’s work.


In the Joburg Open at Houghton Golf Club in Johannesburg, a co-sanctioned tournament on the DP World Tour and the Sunshine Tour, England’s Dan Bradbury, playing on a sponsor’s invitation, claimed a wire-to-wire win with a final round 67 for a 21-under-par total of 263.

Co Down teenager Tom McKibbin finished some 12 shots adrift of Bradbury but still had reason to be happy after a closing 66 for 275 gave the 19-year-old a share of 18th in his first outing since securing a full card on the European Tour.

McKibbin got off to a flying start with a hat-trick of birdies from the first to the third before hitting speed bumps with a bogey on the eighth and a double-bogey on the ninth to turn in 36 but he caught fire on the homeward run with a sequence of four straight birdies from the 11th to the 14th and added another on the 17th to come home in 30.

In securing a good start to his maiden campaign on the main tour, McKibbin remains in South Africa for this week’s South African Open where Bradbury will also be playing after turning a planned one-week trip into a longer itinerary after his win earned him a career-changing status on the DP World Tour and also earned him a ticket to next year’s 151st British Open at Royal Liverpool.

“I was meant to be on a flight out this evening but happily that’s changed. I didn’t even pack enough clothes for more than one week. I’ve got the kids here asking for my cap but I only packed one for each day,” said a delighted Bradbury, who finished three shots clear of Finland’s Sami Valimaki with Springboks’ Christiaan Bezuidenhout and Daniel van Tonder in tied-third.

Cameron Smith, meanwhile, claimed a third Australian PGA Championship title with a final round 68 for 14-under-par 270, three shots clear of Japan’s Ryo Hisatsune and fellow Australian Jason Scrivener.

“I really didn’t think I had it in me at the start of the week. I was a bit scratchy and the game has got better and better as the week went on,” said Smith, who secured his first Major when winning the Claret Jug at St Andrews in July. Smith moved to the LIV Tour following the conclusion of the FedEx Cup on the PGA Tour and, although not getting any world ranking points for his performances on the start-up circuit, is currently ranked number three in the world.

Philip Reid

Philip Reid

Philip Reid is Golf Correspondent of The Irish Times