Solheim Cup star Leona Maguire is closing in on more match play success after reaching the last four of the Bank of Hope LPGA Match Play.
The Cavan golfer, who won four and halved one of her five matches at Europe’s 2021 cup victory in Ohio, booked her semi-final spot with a 3&2 victory over Lindsey Weaver-Wright in Las Vegas.
After losing two of the first three holes, Maguire won five of the next six and never relinquished her advantage over the last remaining American hope.
She had earlier blitzed Perrine Delacour in the last 16 having reached the turn all square.
Maguire will meet Japan’s Ayaka Furue in the last four on Sunday, last year’s runner-up celebrating her 23rd birthday by beating France’s Celine Boutier 2&1 having not been ahead until the 16th.
In the other semi-final, Thailand’s Pajaree Anannarukarn – who beat Spain’s Carlota Ciganda 3&2 – will face Linn Grant of Sweden.
Meanwhile, Pádraig Harrington carded a four-under 68 on Saturday to maintain the lead after three rounds of the Senior US PGA Championship at Frisco, Texas.
Harrington is at 16 under, one shot better than Steve Stricker and three ahead of Stewart Cink. Stricker shot 64 in the third round and Cink, playing alongside Harrington, made a hole-in-one in addition to another eagle while shooting 67.
Harrington, 51, is bidding for his second career Champions Tour Major win and has owned the outright lead in all three rounds.
“I love playing competitive golf where you’re trying to win,” Harrington said. “I know it’s a Major tomorrow and you want to go out there and win Majors more than the next event. But in the end of the day, we all play for that buzz coming down Sunday evening with a chance at winning, [and] trying to manage our game, our thoughts.”
On Saturday, Harrington had five birdies at Fields Ranch East at PGA Frisco but also had a costly double-bogey on the par-four 16th.
Four of Harrington’s birdies came on the front nine, including three straight from the sixth hole.
“Today I left a lot out on the golf course and shoot 68. Golf’s a crazy game,” Harrington said. “It’s just like that. Some days you hit a bad shot and you get a break and you make birdies. Other days you play nice and solid and steady and then it just kind of gets in on you. Yeah, I would be thrilled if I turn up tomorrow and play like I played today.”
Stricker, 56, carded eight birdies – four each on the front and back nine – during a bogey-free round that put pressure on Harrington. He had four birdies over the final six holes, including one on 18 to end his round.
“I feel good about my game,” Stricker said. “I finally took care of the ball today. I didn’t make a bogey. Which is good. Yeah, it’s golf, right? You have it some days and other days are tough.”
Cink is playing in his first Champions event after turning 50 on May 2st1. He stuck the ace on the 219-yard 13th hole and made the eagle at the par-five third.
He admitted he didn’t see the hole-in-one ball drop in the cup.
“I was aimed about six yards right of that flag,” Cink said. “I just happened to kind of draw it a little bit more up against that wind and it took off on a really nice line. And, to be honest, I didn’t even watch it finish.
“I saw when it landed, I knew it was going to be a good shot. And the people on the tee reacted as if it was a good shot. So I turned and kind of just faced them and gave a little nod and then that’s when it went in. And up by the green everyone kind of went crazy. So I didn’t get to see it because I was turned the opposite direction like a dummy. ”
Cink also had three birdies and two bogeys. All three birdies came on the back nine.
Darren Clarke kept up a consistent week of fine scoring as a third straight three-under 69 got him to nine under and a share of fourth position alongside his former Ryder Cup team-mate Robert Karlsson (66 on Saturday) and South Korea’s YE Yang (69). New Zealand’s Steven Alker (69) is in seventh at eight under.