Leona Maguire keen to maintain momentum in Evian Championship

Tournament kick-starts another busy stop on what is turning out to be a hectic itinerary

Leona Maguire of Ireland on the third hole during the third round of the Marathon LPGA Classic presented by Dana golf tournament at Highland Meadows Golf Club in Sylvania, Ohio, USA earlier this month. File photograph: Getty

Leona Maguire of Ireland on the third hole during the third round of the Marathon LPGA Classic presented by Dana golf tournament at Highland Meadows Golf Club in Sylvania, Ohio, USA earlier this month. File photograph: Getty

 

Forget about the air miles, some 18,000 of them if you don’t mind, that Leona Maguire has started clocking up in a stint of globetrotting that has taken her from a US base in Orlando and onwards to this week’s Amundi Evian Championship with an upcoming itinerary that will include the Olympics, Scottish Open and AIG Women’s Open.

In effect, this week’s championship in France – the fourth Major of the women’s professional year – kick-starts yet another busy section of what has already proven to be a hectic itinerary. But the latest tour stop is important in its own right, with the 26-year-old Co Cavan golfer aiming to contend again in a season that so far enabled her move to 60th in the world rankings and 15th on the LPGA Tour order of merit.

Maguire is one of two Irish players in the field, along with Stephanie Meadow, who is looking for improvement following several missed cuts in recent months. Maguire’s form, in contrast, has been consistently strong – with seven top-20s, among them four top-10s and two runner-up finishes – on the LPGA Tour while this will be her third Major appearance of the season, having finished tied 28th in the ANA and tied-15th in the KPMG PGA. She didn’t get into the field for the US Open.

Solheim Cup contenders

With the Solheim Cup set for Toledo in Ohio in September, Maguire is among a number of players also aiming to make an impact on Europe captain Catriona Matthew who will have six wild-card picks once the qualification campaign concludes after the AIG Women’s Open. All of Maguire’s upcoming events – Evian, Olympics, Scottish and AIG – have a large number of points on offer.

Celine Boutier, one of six French players on home soil for the Evian, is one of those also hoping to make a late charge for either an automatic place or sufficiently strong to secure one of Matthew’s picks, while Finland’s Matilda Castren – whose win in the Gant Open last week earned her the required LET membership to qualify for the team – is also in a similar situation.

Boutier, at number 59, is ranked one place ahead of Maguire on the Rolex world standings and the US-based player has enjoyed a return home to get reacquainted with her family ahead of teeing up in this week’s Major.

“Being a part of the European team for the Solheim Cup is definitely a goal of mine and has been since the last edition in 2019, so it is something I think about for sure. I also know that the way for me to perform my best is not to think about it, so it’s definitely been a challenge between juggling between being able to think about it and let it drive me but at the same time not worrying about it too much and just staying in the present and focusing on each tournament at a time,” she said.

What about Inbee Park?

For Inbee Park, the world number three and a seven-time Major champion in a standout career, the venue has a special memory. Her win in 2012 (before it was upgraded to Major status) was the second win of her LPGA career but the first when travelling with her husband. “It has a really special place in my heart,” she said.

“I won in 2012 but it wasn’t a Major. It became a Major; they redid the golf course, and we’re playing a little bit different . . . Obviously becoming a Major, I definitely want to win another Evian Championship. This year I think would be a really good year to do it, as well, coming into the Tokyo Olympics and obviously the course is in really, really good shape,” said Park.

“I really want to play well on this type of a golf course. It’s s really going to come down to putting because I played the pro-am the last couple days and a practice round, still can’t exactly figure out every putt. Sometimes it breaks a lot more than I think and sometimes it just breaks the other way. Just trying to learn the greens. I did homework for the last three days and hopefully that pays off for the weekend,” she added.

The season’s previous three Majors have been won by Patty Tavatankit (ANA), Yuka Saso (US Open) and Nelly Korda (KPMG PGA).

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