Leona Maguire moves a step closer to securing LET card
Francesco Molinari caps stellar season with European Tour player of the year award in London
Leona Maguire: she was runner-up to Sweden’s Linnea Strom at pre-qualifying in Morocco. Photograph: Getty Images
Leona Maguire successfully completed the first phase of her mission to secure a full Ladies European Tour card for next season with an impressive runner-up finish behind Sweden’s Linnea Strom at pre-qualifying in Morocco. However, twin sister Lisa narrowly missed out on her quest to also make the field for next week’s final qualifying.
The 24-year-old Co Cavan twins experienced different emotions: Leona posted a final round 67 for a total of 271, six strokes behind runaway winner Strom, and four shots clear of third-placed finishers Diksha Dagar of India and Austrian Nadine Dreher. But for Lisa there was a heavy price to pay for three bogeys in her final five holes as she signed for a 73 for 293, which left her two shots outside the qualifying mark.
Leona – who has a Symetra Tour card stateside for next season – now moves on to the LET final qualifying school which starts next Sunday on the same two Amelkis Golf Club courses in Morocco. The former longtime world number one amateur, who turned professional after graduating from Duke University last June, posted five birdies in a bogey-free round to comfortably claim her place in the final qualifying which features 116 players from 31 countries.
The final qualifying will take place over two courses, with the field playing each course twice before a final fifth round.
Strom, a graduate of Arizona State, also completed on the Symetra Tour this season where she had 10 top-20 finishes – including a win in the Sioux Falls Challenge in September – and finished fifth on the order of merit to win her full LPGA Tour card for next season.
For Francesco Molinari, a stellar season – which saw him win a breakthrough Major when lifting the Claret Jug at the Open in Carnoustie and record a perfect five points from five matches in Europe’s Ryder Cup over the USA in Paris – was capped with earning the European Tour player of the year award at a function in London on Monday.
The Italian also finished the season on top of the European Tour order of merit, claiming the Race to Dubai title for the first time. In describing the accolade as a “huge honour,” Molinari said: “Many great names have earned this honour and I am proud to join them. It is an award that means a lot to me and is a nice way to end a very special year. Winning [the BMW PGA] at Wentworth, in one of our biggest events, gave me a lot of confidence for the summer, but obviously winning the Open at Carnoustie, becoming my country’s first Major champion, was incredible.
“To then go on to win the Race to Dubai and be part of that European Ryder Cup team in France was amazing. I’ll always look back on this season and be proud of what happened.”
Molinari started the year ranked 21st in the world, and has moved up to seventh in the latest rankings after a season which saw him win three times, the BMW PGA, the Quicken Loans National and the British Open.