Different Strokes: Leona Maguire’s rising star attracting the right kind of attention

Open expansion . . . Finch falls in the river . . . In the bag with KH Lee . . . Twitter Twaddle

Leona Maguire returns to competition on the LPGA Tour for this week's Pure Silk Championship in Virginia, and a further mark of her brand impact – in a season where she has risen to 93rd in the latest Rolex World rankings – is that the Co Cavan player will be sporting a new sponsor on her shirt.

Kastus, an award-winning Irish antimicrobial technology company, have committed to a multi-year partnership with the player: “I’m looking forward to representing them as I travel the world. It’s no secret that I’m very proud of where I’m from and never surprised by Ireland’s impact on a global scale. Kastus is an Irish-based global business that perfectly aligns with my values and is committed to helping communities and business across the world.”

Maguire’s season to date – which includes a runner-up finish in last month’s Lotte Championship – has seen her move to a new level in what is technically another rookie season on the LPGA Tour, with that category effectively voided last season due to the impact of Covid.

Currently 16th in the LPGA order of merit, Maguire returns to action at the Pure Silk and has also earned a place in next week’s limited-field Bank of Hope Matchplay Championship in Las Vegas.

Stephanie Meadow is also in the field for this week's tour stop but is not in the field for the matchplay. However, the Northern Irishwoman has successfully punched her ticket to next month's US Women's Open in San Francisco.

Open to expansion for qualifiers

The R&A have made the qualifying conditions for the 149th Open at Royal St George’s in July even more, well, open . . . with the number of players advancing from regional and final qualifying increased from eight to a minimum of 12.

Due to Covid restrictions, the qualifying events will be conducted at four venues – Hollinwell, Prince’s, St Annes Old Links and West Lancashire: regional qualifying takes place at the four venues on June 26th or 27th with those who successfully negotiate that hurdle advancing to final qualifying at the same venues on June 29th.

The entry process started back in March and the final deadline for entries is this Thursday, May 20th (via TheOpen.com).

By the Numbers: 3

There are three Irish players in the field for this week's US PGA Championship at Kiawah Island: Pádraig Harrington, Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry. The Ocean Course will become the longest course of any Major, measuring 7,876 yards for the Par 72 layout.

Word of Mouth

"It's been humbling. For someone who's been positive, when you go this long through a low point, it tests all facets of your game" – Rickie Fowler on trying to find his form again. Once ranked fourth in the world, he has dropped to 128th in the rankings and his last win came in the Phoenix Open in February 2019. Fowler, yet to win a Major, received a special invitation to play in this week's PGA Championship at Kiawah Island after failing to meet any of the qualifying criteria.

On this day: May 18th,2008

Richard Finch made a splash in more ways than one in capturing the Irish Open at Adare Manor, as the Englishman, in attempting to execute his second shot on the Par-5 finishing hole from the river bank, fell into the River Maigue en route to a closing 70 for 10-under-par 278.

Of his freefall into the river, Finch remarked: “It was an awkward stance. I thought possibly of chipping out backwards and then hitting the next one on the green but I never gave falling in a thought. It must have been the momentum on the follow-through. It was a three-quarter shot and the momentum just took me around and in.”

Finch finished up waist high in the river. And, although his clothes were sapping wet, he managed to escape with a bogey, and a one-stroke winning margin over Chile's Felipe Aguilar with Gary Murphy among a quartet who finished tied-third.

Finch was claiming his second win of the season, adding the Irish Open to his New Zealand Open success, and collected €416,000 for his troubles.

Twitter Twaddle

Fun week playing @atbyronnelson despite the slightly damp finish. Great to experience the atmosphere the crowds bring to the @PGATOUR again. The new @PingTour g425 driver got to see many climates for its first outing – Séamus Power, whose top-10 finish in the Byron Nelson moved him from 437th to 342nd in the world rankings and from 195th to 169th in the FedEx Cup standings. The Waterford man earned a payday of €175,000 ($212,625) for his finish.

Still can't quite believe what happened! But thank you all so much for the messages & support! Guess I got there in the end . . . – Richard Bland on finally getting that winning feeling, claiming the British Masters in his 478th career appearance.

Congrats Blandy, very worthy champion – Danny Willett, who hosted the British Masters, tipping his cap to the 48-year-old winner. Willett has travelled on to South Carolina for this week's PGA Championship.

Know the Rules

In searching for his ball in the rough, Player A accidentally moves the ball. The player should replace the ball on the original or estimated spot without penalty. However, instead of replacing the ball on the original or estimated spot, the player drops the ball on that spot, the ball bounces and comes to rest on another spot and the player proceeds to play from there. What is the ruling in such a situation?

Because the player's multiple breaches of the rules were a combination of a procedural breach – replacing the ball in a wrong way under Rule 14.2b(2) – and playing from a wrong place in reach of Rule 14.7a, the player gets a total of two penalty strokes under Rule 14.7a.

In the Bag: KH Lee - Winner of AT&T Byron Nelson

Driver: Callaway Epic Max LS (10.5 degrees)
3-wood: Titleist TS3 (15 degrees)
Hybrid: Titleist TS3 (19 degrees)
Irons: Titleist U500 (4 iron), Callaway X Forged CB (5-PW)
Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design SM7 (52, 56, 60)
Putter: Toulon Design San Diego
Ball:- Titleist Pro V1x