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Olivia Mehaffey aiming to challenge at Women's Open as Irish trio arrive at Troon in form

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Olivia Mehaffey

Olivia Mehaffey

Olivia Mehaffey

She may be one of only two amateurs in the field but that doesn't mean Olivia Mehaffey is going to the Women's Open happy to make up the numbers.

Quite the opposite, the Tandragee star says she's determined to trouble the leaderboard in her fourth major championship.

Mehaffey, who had been due to turn pro this summer until the coronavirus pandemic spoiled those plans, has missed the cut in all three of her previous major appearances - the 2016 and 2017 Women's Opens as well as the 2018 US Open.

However, now with four years of college experience behind her as well as a recent win, she's optimistic this week could be a different story at Royal Troon.

"Every time I’ve been able to tee it up with the pros I think I’ve learned a great deal from their game and what it takes to be at the top," she said.

"When I look back on majors I’ve played in the past, what I take is that I’ve progressed my game in different areas. Playing at Woburn for example I was hitting the ball so low and I couldn’t stop it on the greens. I saw the other players who hit it higher and that’s something I’ve really worked on and I feel I have a lot more control.

"You learn a lot but I feel now I’m at the stage where I’ve played in a number and have that experience so I’m not just going to make up the numbers I really want to go and compete."

Mehaffey can also take confidence from the fact that she knows how to win in Troon. It was there that, back in 2015, she claimed the prestigious Helen Holm Scottish Open Stroke Play Championship with a four over par total across three rounds.

Her form coming out of lockdown, too, is encouraging. Despite not being able to take in any top level tournaments, she has impressed on the Irish circuit, even shooting an eight under par course record 66 to win the Woodbrook Scratch Cup.

The other two Irish women to tee it up at Troon this week, Stephanie Meadow and Leona Maguire, also come in on form.

Meadow arrives in Scotland on a run of three top 20 finishes from her last four outings, two either side of lockdown.

Her positive run of form comes at an opportune moment as Meadow looks to improve on a disappointing major record.

Yes, she made a famous professional debut at the 2014 US Open, finishing in third and pocketing a stunning $270,000. However, since then, there has been just one cut made in 19 further major appearances, that coming way back at the 2015 ANA Inspiration.

If ever there was an opportunity to improve that run, it's this week at Troon.

Since she withdrew from the Indy Women In Tech Championship last September, the Jordanstown woman has made six consecutive cuts on the LPGA Tour and risen 117 in the world rankings to 195th.

Meadow's last outing at the Marathon LPGA Classic earlier this month ended in a tied 20th place finish, pocketing a tidy $18,138 and lifting her to 31st in the LPGA Tour points-list.

Cavan's Leona Maguire made her professional return from lockdown at last week's Ladies Scottish Open and finished in an encouraging tie for 18th.

The 25-year-old is playing in her eighth major, have made the cut twice with a highest finish of tied 25th in the 2016 Women's Open.

Mehaffey is first out on Thursday morning, playing alongside her childhood 'idol' Laura Davies and Alena Sharp. Meadow begins her opening round at 11.21am while Maguire tees off at 8.47am.

Belfast Telegraph