Leona Maguire remains at business part of the leaderboard in California

Olivia Mehaffey is also in contention at Augusta National Women’s Invitational

"Go!" extolled Leona Maguire of her approach shot from rough on the sixth, her 15th hole of the second round of the ANA Inspiration at Rancho Mirage in California, but her verbal influence over the ball was in vain as it came up short and plunged to a watery grave in the hazard guarding the green.

What happened next, though, exemplified her fight. Taking a penalty drop, Maguire then hit her approach short of the green - and thankfully over the pond - and, then, chipped-in for a bogey. Sometimes, those type of bogeys are as good as any birdie and for the 26-year-old Co Cavan golfer that avoidance of a double-bogey or greater was crucial.

Ultimately, Maguire signed for a second round 73 to go with her opening 67 for a midway total of four-under-par 140, which left her very much at the business part of the leaderboard and three shots adrift of leader Patty Tavatanakit as the Thai golfer added a second round 69 for nine-under-par 137.

Maguire - in a sporting year when the Olympics in Tokyo and possibly the Solheim Cup beckon for her as she continues to move in ever-higher company - showcased her grit on much of the front nine where, finding only five of nine greens in regulation, she managed to keep a bogey off her card with scrambling and solid putting.


An eight-footer for birdie on the 12th, her third hole, moved Maguire into a share of the lead and she maintained that position for much of her round until a bogey on the first (her 10th). She bounced back with an immediate birdie on the second but suffered a bogey on the third and, then, escaped with a bogey on the sixth when a double or worse was on the cards. And, having missed the green with her tee shot on the par 3 eighth, Maguire again demonstrated her grit in pitching from rough to eight feet and again letting her putter make the par save.

Maguire - who had a tied-18th finish in last year’s ANA Inspiration, played in September but a result that got her back into the field - has enjoyed a strong start to the season including a tied-sixth finish in the LPGA Drive on Championship.

Off the tee, Maguire has added strength and length. "I've done a lot of gym work and just speed work. I changed to a new Ping driver, the new 425, and changed the shafts on my irons back to graphite, so it's going a bit higher into these greens, which just makes things a little bit easier, which is nice," said Maguire, who had Europe's Solheim Cup captain Catriona Matthew on-site watching her show grit to stay in the mix.

With the backdrop of the San Jacinto Mountains range showing snowcaps at odds with many players using umbrellas to shield from the searing sun and temperatures expected to reach up to 40 degrees centigrade over the weekend, Maguire - whose best career finish in a Major was the tied-18th on this course last September - is well positioned to challenge.

On potentially a huge weekend for Irish women's golf, Olivia Mehaffey - a student at Arizona State and set to join the professional ranks during the summer - heads into the final round of the Augusta National Women's Invitational just a shot behind joint leaders Rose Zhang, of the United States, the number one ranked amateur in the world, and Sweden's Ingrid Lindblad.

“It’s Augusta National. We’re on this stage right now that the whole world’s watching, and there’s going to be more pressure than I’m sure anybody’s ever felt. It’s obviously going to be difficult. You have to kind of go in prepared for that. You don’t really know what’s going to happen. It’s definitely nice to be in contention. Any time you’re in contention, it means you’re playing great,” said Mehaffey.

On the PGA Tour, Pádraig Harrington slipped to a second round 74 to add to his opening 70 to reach the midpoint on level par 144 and assured of making the cut. American Cameron Tringale - chasing his first individual win on the PGA Tour - carded a second round 60 for a 36-holes total of nine-under-par 135 to claim the lead.

“I’d like to hit a few more fairways. My driver was leaking left, or not fading back. I’ll hit a few extra drives (in the third round) but, other than that, I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing,” said Tringale.

Collated second round scores & totals in theLPGA Tour ANA Inspiration (USA unless stated, Par 72):

135 Paphangkorn Tavatanakit (Tha) 66 69

136 Shanshan Feng (Chn) 67 69

137 Moriya Jutanugarn (Tha) 68 69

138 Anna Nordqvist (Swe) 68 70, 138 Charley Hull (Eng) 69 69

139 Ind-Bee Park (Kor) 70 69, Mi-Rim Lee (Kor) 69 70, Jin-Young Ko (Kor) 69 70, Lydia Ko (Nzl) 70 69, Sophia Popov (Ger) 70 69, Georgia Hall (Eng) 69 70

140 Gaby Lopez (Mex) 73 67, Leona Maguire (Irl) 67 73, Christina Kim 70 70, Nanna Koerstz Madsen (Den) 72 68, Yui Kawamoto (Jpn) 71 69, Yuka Saso (Phi) 69 71, Pajaree Anannarukarn (Tha) 71 69, Daniela Holmqvist (Swe) 70 70

141 Jeon-Geun Lee (Kor) 71 70, Nelly Korda 71 70, Austin Ernst 73 68, Ally Ewing 71 70, Megan Khang 68 73, Jennifer Kupcho 69 72

142 Alexis Thompson 70 72, Hannah Green (Aus) 71 71, Danielle Kang 72 70, Min-Jee Lee (Aus) 72 70, Mi-Jung Hur (Kor) 71 71, Gabriela Ruffels (Aus) 72 70, Amy Olson 73 69, Yu Liu (Chn) 71 71, Azahara Munoz (Spa) 70 72, Ryann O’Toole 71 71, Gerina Piller 70 72, Jaye Marie Green 71 71

143 Brittany Lincicome 73 70, Ariya Jutanugarn (Tha) 68 75, Sei-Young Kim (Kor) 72 71, Amy Yang (Kor) 70 73, Bronte Law (Eng) 69 74, Lauren Stephenson 71 72

144 Pernilla Lindberg (Swe) 72 72, Som-Yeon Ryu (Kor) 72 72, Brooke Henderson (Can) 75 69, Nasa Hataoka (Jpn) 75 69, Eun-Hee Ji (Kor) 72 72, Celine Boutier (Fra) 75 69, Melissa Reid (Eng) 71 73, Mi-Hyang Lee (Kor) 73 71, Jennifer Song 72 72, Caroline Masson (Ger) 73 71, Linnea Stroem (Swe) 75 69, Cydney Clanton 74 70, Kelly Tan (Mal) 71 73, Stephanie Meadow (NIrl) 71 73, Xiyu Lin (Chn) 72 72

145 Stacy Lewis 76 69, Angela Stanford 72 73, Hee-Young Park (Kor) 73 72, Jessica Korda 69 76, Maria Torres (Pur) 73 72, Jenny Shin (Kor) 71 74, Cristie Kerr 72 73, Kristen Gillman 72 73, Hyo-Joo Kim (Kor) 72 73, Nicole Broch Larsen (Den) 71 74, Pornanong Phatlum (Tha) 70 75, Angel Yin 72 73, Aditi Ashok (Ind) 73 72

Philip Reid

Philip Reid

Philip Reid is Golf Correspondent of The Irish Times