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Battling Stephanie Meadow bags crucial top 10 finish

By Phil Casey

Stephanie Meadow greatly boosted her chances of retaining her LPGA Tour card after finishing on 12 under par - tied 10th - in the Canadian Pacific Open in Alberta.

The Jordanstown golfer shot a level par 72 - containing two bogeys and two birdies - in yesterday's final round of the prestigious tournament won by Thailand's recent Open winner Ariya Jutanugarn on 23 under par ­­- she closed with a six under 66 - four shots clear of Korea's Sei Young Kim.

Hopes were high for Stephanie when she shot a stunning first round six under 66, following up with two rounds of three under par 69 to give herself a real chance going into last night's final round.

Meadow (24) is in only her second year as a professional and before the event in Canada was 152nd in the LPGA rankings with just the top 125 earning cards for 2017.

In New York Rory McIlroy shot a two over par 73 to finish level par for the tournament in The Barclays at Bethpage.

That saw the Ulsterman finish tied 31st.

Patrick Reed, with a nine under par total, after a closing 70, recorded a one-shot victory from fellow American Sean O'Hair and Argentina's Emiliano Grillo.

Belgium's Thomas Pieters admitted he had given Ulster's Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke a selection headache after producing a brilliant finish to claim his third European Tour title in the Made in Denmark event.

In a final round delayed due to bad weather, Pieters birdied the last three holes in a closing 65 to finish 17 under par and a shot ahead of overnight leader Bradley Dredge, who birdied the last to secure his second runners-up finish of the season.

Sweden's Joakim Lagergren stood on the 18th tee in a tie for the lead with playing partner Pieters, but lost his ball after a wayward drive and the resulting triple-bogey seven dropped him into fifth place behind David Lipsky and Adrian Otaegui.

Pieters was fourth in the Olympics and second in the defence of his Czech Masters title last week to force his name into the frame for one of European captain Clarke's three wild cards.

And after carding rounds of 62 and 71 while playing alongside the Northern Irishman in the first two rounds, the 24-year-old could not have done anything more to earn his place on the team for Hazeltine next month.

Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer - who finished joint sixth at Himmerland Golf and Spa Resort - have long been favourites to secure two of the wild cards as Clarke looks for experience alongside the five rookies among the nine automatic qualifiers.

But that leaves the former Open champion with what appears to be a tough choice between Pieters and Scotland's Russell Knox, who won the WGC-HSBC Champions last November and added the Travelers Championship earlier this month. The pair finished just 0.04 points apart in the final standings and, asked if he had given Clarke a headache, Pieters said: "I would say so. I've done all I can and we'll wait and see."

Pieters added in his press conference: "He (Clarke) has got plenty of good players to pick from, so if he doesn't pick me, then so be it and I'll work my butt off to get there in the next one.

"But I've done all I can now and I'm just really pleased with this win to be honest."

Pieters was part of a four-way tie for the lead after he almost holed his tee shot to the par-three 16th and tapped in for birdie, but knew that was not likely to be enough.

"I saw I was one back walking to the green on 16 and hit a great shot there, but knew I needed at least one more," he added.

"To finish with two more is pretty cool."

Belfast Telegraph


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