Leona Maguire equals lowest Major score with stunning 61 at Evian Championship

Irish golfer enjoys perfect Olympics send-off as Minjee Lee claims title in playoff

Ireland’s Leona Maguire equalled the record for lowest round at a Major championship with her closing 61 at the Evian Championships in France on Sunday. Photograph: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Ireland’s Leona Maguire equalled the record for lowest round at a Major championship with her closing 61 at the Evian Championships in France on Sunday. Photograph: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

 

The actual trophy may have evaded her clutches, as Australian Minjee Lee defeated Jeongeun Lee6 at the first playoff hole of the Amundi Evian Championship, but Leona Maguire’s remarkable final round charge up the leaderboard – which came with a record-equalling 61 low round in a Major, by women or men – enabled the 26-year-old Co Cavan golfer to claim much of the glory.

Maguire’s next tournament will be the Olympics in Tokyo in just over a week’s time, her first time to travel to Asia, but she prepared for that global journey with a superb send-off: her bogey-free, 10 birdie round of 61 by the shores of Lake Geneva at the foot of the Alps was as stunning as the scenery.

Technically still in her rookie season on the LPGA Tour after last year’s curtailed schedule, Maguire’s tied-sixth place finish (finishing on 13-under 271, ultimately five adrift of the two Lees) earned her a payday of €106,137 ($124,938) and moved her to 11th on the Race to CME Globe order of merit while also securing further European Solheim Cup points in her bid to become the first Irishwoman to play in the biennial team match with the USA.

In what was the fourth Major of the women’s season, Maguire – who had finished tied-28th in the ANA and tied-15th in the KPMG PGA (she wasn’t exempt for the US Women’s Open) – claimed a career best low finish in spectacular fashion in following up Saturday’s third-round 71 with a 61 that enabled her to join Lee6 (in Friday’s second round) and Hyo Joo Kim (in 2014) as the only players in history to have 61s in Majors.

“I’ve just been really consistent [all season] and giving myself opportunities. My irons have been good, it’s boiled down to then how I putt. And there wasn’t a whole lot of difference between the 61 and 71. I came off the course [on Saturday] feeling like I played great and just didn’t hole any putts and today they went in . . . I hit it that little bit closer and just holed a few more putts. It’s fine margins in golf,” explained Maguire.

“I felt like I had been playing really well the last couple of days, I just didn’t hole any putts. It was a case of staying as patient as you possibly can and this course definitely tests it. I’d a birdie on the first and then holed a really nice putt [from 40 feet] on the second and it just kind of snowballed from there really.”

Tournament winner Minjee Lee of Australia celebrates on the 18th green after her playoff win against South Korea’s Jeongeun Lee6 in the Amundi Evian Championship at Evian Resort Golf Club, France. Photograph: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images
Tournament winner Minjee Lee of Australia celebrates on the 18th green after her playoff win against South Korea’s Jeongeun Lee6 in the Amundi Evian Championship at Evian Resort Golf Club, France. Photograph: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Maguire followed that sizzling start with a birdie – from six feet – on the third to make it a hat-trick and then, on the seventh, hit a 9-iron to within 12 inches. Her fifth birdie arrived on the eighth, where she hit a hybrid approach from 184 yards to 15 feet.

Maguire turned in 30 strokes, and then added another birdie on the 10th – an 8-iron approach from 134 yards to six feet – and on the Par-5 15th, and then nearly holed out with her approach to the Par-3 16th for a tap-in birdie.

On the 17th, Maguire hit an 8-iron approach to eight feet and finished on the Par-5 18th, reaching the upper tier of the green with a 6-wood approach and two-putting for birdie.

Stephanie Meadow, too, finished off her pre-Olympics build-up with a strong finish as she closed with a 67 for a total of five-under-par 279 to finish in tied-29th place and improve her position on the order of merit to 85th to strengthen her bid to retain a full tour card.

The destination of the title was extended into a playoff, after Minjee Lee closed out with a 64 and Lee6 struggled to a 71 for each to finish on 266.

A fortnight after her brother Min Woo Lee won the Scottish Open on the European Tour, Minjee’s birdie to Lee6’s bogey at the first playoff hole, the Par-5 18th, saw her claim a fifth career win and breakthrough win in a Major.

On coming from seven shots behind at the start of the round, the Australian remarked: “I never really thought about it when I was playing. I just tried to make as many birdies as I could, just tried to play to the best of my ability and it is really great to win a Major!”

Final leaderboard

British and Irish unless stated, par 71

266 Minjee Lee (Aus) 68 69 65 64, JeonGeun Lee6 (Kor) 66 61 68 71 - Minjee Lee won on first play-off hole
267 Yealimi Noh (USA) 65 68 67 67
269 Ayaka Furue (Jpn) 66 68 68 67
270 Atthaya Thitikul (Tha) 66 69 70 65
271 Lydia Ko (Nzl) 68 65 68 70, Ind-Gee Chun (Kor) 68 68 68 67, Georgia Hall 69 72 66 64, Leona Maguire 69 70 71 61
273 Amy Yang (Kor) 71 69 67 66, Pajaree Anannarukarn (Tha) 65 65 72 71
274 Ind-Bee Park (Kor) 71 64 71 68, Brittany Lang (USA) 69 68 69 68, Lauren Stephenson (USA) 66 69 71 68
275 Maria Fassi (Mex) 68 74 65 68, Brittany Altomare (USA) 71 70 65 69
276 Hyo-Joo Kim (Kor) 67 68 69 72, Ryann O’Toole (USA) 71 68 66 71
277 Nelly Korda (USA) 74 67 69 67, Ariya Jutanugarn (Tha) 67 63 73 74, Moriya Jutanugarn (Tha) 68 72 69 68, Matilda Castren (Fin) 68 69 68 72, Emily Kristine Pedersen (Den) 66 70 69 72, Sarah Kemp (Aus) 67 69 70 71
278 Brooke Henderson (Can) 69 69 70 70, Lizette Salas (USA) 73 66 71 68, Hee-Young Park (Kor) 70 68 69 71, Charley Hull 70 68 66 74
279 Celine Boutier (Fra) 69 72 68 70, Wichanee Meechai (Tha) 70 70 70 69 Mina Harigae (USA) 69 67 71 72, Elizabeth Szokol (USA) 70 70 69 70, Stephanie Meadow 71 68 73 67, Jeong-Eun Lee (Kor) 70 71 72 66
280 Austin Ernst (USA) 69 71 70 70, Marina Alex (USA) 70 69 72 69, Hae-Ji Kang (Kor) 71 71 69 69
281 Pauline Bouchard (Fra) 68 74 71 68, Sei-Young Kim (Kor) 71 70 72 68, Jessica Korda (USA) 73 69 70 69, Anna Nordqvist (Swe) 71 71 72 67, Madelene Sagstroem (Swe) 69 73 72 67, Chella Choi (Kor) 70 71 72 68, Christina Kim (USA) 71 69 69 72, Kristen Gillman (USA) 69 73 69 70, Muni He (Chn) 69 69 71 72, Jennifer Song (USA) 70 68 67 76
282 Tsubasa Kajitani (Jpn) 68 72 72 70, Angel Yin (USA) 73 68 69 72
283 Jennifer Kupcho (USA) 73 68 69 73, Cheyenne Knight (USA) 69 72 72 70, Jenny Shin (Kor) 70 72 73 68, Ana Belac (Slo) 72 71 69 71
284 Som-Yeon Ryu (Kor) 69 74 70 71, Eun-Hee Ji (Kor) 70 71 70 73, Bronte Law 70 72 68 74, Pornanong Phatlum (Tha) 70 73 70 71
285 Rose Zhang (USA) 72 69 72 72, Ashleigh Buhai (Rsa) 69 73 74 69
286 Jin-Young Ko (Kor) 72 69 76 69, Sophia Popov (Ger) 69 70 73 74, Amy Olson (USA) 71 67 76 72, Esther Henseleit (Ger) 70 70 72 74, Lindsey Weaver (USA) 68 73 72 73
287 Stephanie Kyriacou (Aus) 73 69 69 76, Alison Lee (USA) 70 73 72 72, Jaye Marie Green (USA) 72 70 74 71
288 Celine Palomar-Herbin (Fra) 68 70 76 74, Jennifer Chang (USA) 71 72 72 73
289 Olivia Cowan (Ger) 71 71 72 75, Alena Sharp (Can) 69 72 72 76 290 Jennifer Coleman (USA) 75 68 72 75
292 Emma Talley (USA) 72 70 76 74, Mi-Hyang Lee (Kor) 75 68 73 76
299 Alice Hewson 72 71 83 73
310 Lucie Malchirand (Fra) 69 72 82 87

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