Olivia Mehaffey makes semi-finals in Portstewart
World No 1 Leona Maguire and Paula Grant both crash out of British Amateur Championship
Ireland’s Leona Maguire lost to Joanna Charlton of Australia in the third round of the Ladies’ British Open Amateur Championship at Portstewart. Photo: David Cannon/Getty Images
Olivia Mehaffey carries Irish hopes into the Ladies’ British Open Amateur Championship semi-finals at Portstewart on Saturday morning after world number one Leona Maguire suffered a shock last 16 defeat in round three.
The 17-year-old Royal County Down star faces Sweden’s Linnea Strom for a place in the 18-hole final where, if victorious, she would face Celine Boutier of France or Belgium’s Charlotte De Corte for the title and a place in the British Women’s Open alongside the world’s leading professionals.
De Corte also ended the hopes of another Irish hopeful – Lisburn’s Paula Grant – at the quarter-final stage with a 3&2 victory, while the shock of day came in the morning when Maguire’s impressive run was halted with a 3&1 defeat at the hands of Australia’s Joanna Charlton.
It leaves talented teenager Mehaffey – who has already swept the board in strokeplay events this season in Ireland, Wales and Scotland – as the sole Irish contender as the tournament reaches its conclusion.
First up yesterday she recorded a notable two-hole win over Sweden’s Madelene Sagstrom – Europe’s No 3 ranked player.
Mehaffey edged ahead after four holes and still held a one-hole advantage at the turn.
She then increased her lead to three holes after 14 and, despite a fightback from Sagstrom who won the 15th and 17th, Mehaffey responded to the pressure by winning the 18th.
Then, in the quarter-finals, Irish starlet Mehaffey beat Maddie Szeryk 1up with the Canadian having earlier seen off last year’s beaten finalist Leslie Cloots of Belgium.
Szeryk edged in front after three holes but the pair were level at the turn, before Mehaffey went two-up on the 15th and, despite Szeryk hitting back to win the 16th, Mehaffey halved the final two holes to seal the deal.
Meanwhile, Grant’s own hopes of glory were dashed by De Corte at the last eight stage with the Belgian picking up a 3&2 victory.
Having gone one-up after four, Grant then slipped two behind by the turn and there was no way back after that as she was unable to repeat her stunning comeback from the previous round against Sweden’s Elin Esborn.
Having been three down after 14 against Esborn and seemingly heading out, Grant then won the next three holes to level it up. A half at the 18th sent them down the 19 th, where Grant completed her comeback.
Earlier, hot tournament favourite Maguire was sent packing by Charlton – who also defeated Leona’s twin sister Lisa Maguire in the first match-play round on Wednesday.
In what was a tightly-fought contest that was all square at the turn and nip and tuck until the 14 th, when the game swung Charlton’s way after a spectacular finishing burst of birdie-birdie-eagle to win the 14th, 15th and 17th holes.
“I’m disappointed,” said Maguire. “But I was happy with the way I played; it was just that Joanna played better in the closing stages.”