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Leona impresses Sonia with Aussie staying power

 

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Strong finish: Leona Maguire

Strong finish: Leona Maguire

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Strong finish: Leona Maguire

Leona Maguire impressed Olympic silver medalist Sonia O'Sullivan with her staying power as she finished just one shot outside a play-off in the LPGA Tour's ISPS Handa Vic Open in Australia.

The County Cavan star (25) might be a rookie on the LPGA Tour this year, but she showed she's already a gritty, experienced performer by closing with a two-under-par 70 in high winds at 13th Beach Golf Links near Melbourne to finish tied fourth with Sweden's Linnea Storm on seven-under-par.

South Korea's Hee Young Park beat compatriots So Yeon Ryu and Hye-Jin Cho at the fourth extra hole, but after finishing just one shot behind, Maguire had the consolation of a career-best cheque for $52,861 (€48,000) that catapults her to 16th in the LPGA Tour money list.

"I stayed really patient," said Maguire, who was watched by O'Sullivan as she came within a whisker of making a play-off but missed a seven-footer for par at the 17th before coming close with a long-range eagle putt at the last.

"Conditions were really tough at the weekend with four and five-club winds blowing. But I putted really solidly and capitalised on the par fives nicely."

The former world amateur number one, who won twice on the Symetra Tour last year, certainly impressed the watching O'Sullivan in an event where men and women play separate events on the same courses for an equal share fo the prize money.

"Great effort today @leona_maguire racing up the leaderboard @VicOpenGolf on another tough windy, blustery day sand, dust and flies," the former world 5,000-metre champion tweeted. "Fantastic concentration to hold form on the final day."

The game is trending nicely," added the Slieve Russell touring professional, who remains in Australia for the LPGA Tour's ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open this week and next week's Australian Ladies Classic Bonville on the Ladies European Tour. "Hopefully I can build on this week's momentum."

NI's Stephanie Meadow tied for 20th ($12,458) on two-under after a final round 76 as Australia's Min Woo Lee (21) carded a final round 68 to claim the men's title by two shots from New Zealand's Ryan Fox, who shot 64, on 19-under.

Clandeboye's Jonathan Caldwell and Ardglass rookie Cormac Sharvin missed the 54-hole cut but did not go away empty-handed.

Caldwell (€6,421) tied for 39th after missing the three-round cut by one stroke on five-under with Sharvin (€4,954) a shot further back after a 75.

Meanwhile, Sweden's Anton Karlsson came from three shots behind to win his maiden Challenge Tour title at the RAM Cape Town Open.

He carded a three-under 69 in challenging conditions to edge out South African Garrick Higgo by one stroke on 14-under par as Gavin Moynihan (€1,869) finished tied 37th on three-under after a 72 and Robin Dawson (€1,527) joint 59th after a 75.

On the PGA Tour, Pádraig Harrington (two-over) and Graeme McDowell (three-over) missed the three-under, 54-hole cut at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in California where Seamus Power went into last night's final round tied for 44th on four-under.

Belfast Telegraph