Leona Maguire finds Major form to keep in touch with PGA Championship lead

Séamus Power bounces back from missed cut at the US Open to card an opening 67 at the Travelers Championship

Leona Maguire of Ireland hits a tee shot on the 12th hole during the first round of the KPMG Women's PGA Championship. Photograph: Steph Chambers/Getty Images

Finally, Leona Maguire – promising to be “kinder” to herself – discovered her Major form.

Having missed the cut in both the Chevron and the US Open, the 29-year-old Co Cavan golfer moved straight into contention in the KPMG Women’s PGA  Championship at Sahalee Country Club, in the Seattle suburbs, with a superbly crafted 70, two-under-par, to lie one stroke behind Nelly Korda.

Maguire joined her Solheim Cup teammate Celine Boutine, American Allisen Corpuz and Japan’s Akie Iwal on 70s.

Having started on the 10th, Maguire got her round off to a flying start with a birdie on her opening hole and then bounced back from a bogey on the 13th with a birdie on the 14th to turn in 35. She added further birdies on the first and fifth before dropping a shot on the seventh.


“I stayed very patient. I’ve been struggling with my driver off the tee quite a bit recently but I drove it a bit better today, which was nice, and got myself out of trouble today quite well when I did get off line behind a couple trees. So, just accepting that’s going to be part of this week around here, you’re going to have to shape a few around a few trees, and I gave myself  a lot of chances. It would’ve been nice to hole a few more putts, but I’ve still got plenty golf to play,” said Maguire.

“I probably have been very harsh on myself, I would say, lately. Probably too harsh. I’ve had people around me, family, people on my team going, ‘you need to be kinder to yourself’. I think that was the message this week, to not put too much pressure and expectations and just sort of embrace the challenge that here is going to bring like any other Major.

“I suppose it’s very tempting to try and be too perfect at a major knowing the consequences are higher if I miss a shot. Yeah, to be kinder to myself this week was a big goal!”

World number one Korda – who had missed the cut in her last two outings in what up to then had been a dominant season – recovered from a double-bogey six on the fourth, her 13th hole, to card no fewer than six birdies in her round, including a hat-trick from the 13th, to claim the clubhouse lead.

Séamus Power bounced back from his missed cut in last week’s US Open with a strong opening round of the Travelers Championship – the last of the PGA Tour’s $20 million signature events of the season – at TPC Highlands in Connecticut with an opening round of three-under-par 67, which featured five birdies and two bogeys.

Séamus Power putts on the 18th green during the first round of the Travelers Championship. Photograph: James Gilbert/Getty Images

And Shane Lowry – who finished tied-19th in Pinehurst – had an up-and-down first round containing four birdies and three bogeys to sign for a 69.

On a course which has traditionally provided a birdie fest, the hot scoring continued in this latest edition with Akshay Bhatia, Rickie Fowler, Kurt Kitayama and Will Zalatoris all setting the clubhouse target with eight-under-par 64s until Tom Kim came in with a 63 to move into the top position.

World number one Scottie Scheffler – seeking his sixth win of the season – followed up his disappointing US Open, where he tied-41st, with a strong opening round of 65 to be very much in contention.

“I feel like I hit it nice. Found some swings, or found some stuff in my swing at the beginning of the week, and definitely feel like I’m swinging a lot better than I did last week,” said Scheffler.

On the DP World Tour, Finland’s Mikko Korhonen and Italy’s Matteo Manassero opened with seven-under-par 64s to share the first round lead, where Tom McKibbin was the best of the Irish players in tied-23rd after opening with a 69.

In the OFX Irish Legends at Seapoint Golf Club in Termonfeckin, former British Open champion Paul Lawrie – who won his Claret Jug in 1999 – and Sweden’s Patrik Sjoland shot opening five-under-par 67s to share the first round lead, a stroke clear of two-time Major champion Angel Cabrera of Argentina and South African Keith Horne.

Philip Reid

Philip Reid

Philip Reid is Golf Correspondent of The Irish Times