Leona Maguire Plays Last 6 Holes In 6-Under, Comes From Behind To Win Meijer LPGA Classic

BELMONT, Mich. (AP) — Leona Maguire used a fabulous finish to avoid another near-miss at the Meijer LPGA Classic.

Maguire played her final six holes in 6 under and shot an 8-under 64 for a two-shot victory on Sunday, her second tour victory after two straight second-place finishes in the Michigan event.

The 28-year-old Maguire, from Ireland, was the runner-up at Blythefield in both 2021 and last year. She won her first LPGA Tour title last year at the Drive On Championship. Sunday’s finish was her third straight in the top 10 heading into two upcoming majors: the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship next week at Baltusrol and the U.S. Women’s Open at Pebble Beach on July 6-9.

“The goal today was just to go out and shoot as low a score as possible and see where I ended up,” Maguire said. “This one is, I think, that little bit sweeter after coming so close two years in a row.

“I know a lot of people this week were saying you’re due one, this course owes you something, all the rest. But I suppose that’s not golf. Golf usually doesn’t work like that. But nice that it all worked out well for me this week.”

Maguire made six birdies and an eagle in her bogey-free round to finish at 21-under 267. She caught playing partner Ariya Jutanugarn with an eagle on the par-5 14th hole to reach 18 under, then closed with three straight birdies to pull ahead of Jutanugarn and Xiyu Lin.

“My goal today was to shoot 20-under par,” Maguire said. “I thought if I got to 20, that would be a good target to set for the girls coming behind. I didn’t look at leaderboards. … It was obviously a bonus to go one better, 21, and obviously bogey-free on a Sunday is very nice, as well.”

Maguire was solid but unspectacular on the front nine, birdieing both par 3s, and was 2 under for the day through 12 holes. She then birdied the par-3 13th to kick off her torrid closing stretch.

She called the birdie at No. 13 “massive,” and anticipated chances to go low over the closing holes.

“It’s that kind of golf course where there’s chances, you just have to be ready to take them when you get them,” she said. “I played the par-3s really, really well today and didn’t quite play the par-5s as well as I would have liked. … That putt going in on 13 was sort of a bit of a mental shift for me, and then obviously to get that eagle on 14 was huge.”

Jutanugarn, a 12-time winner on tour including two majors, shot her second straight 66 and finished alone in second. Lin, playing in the final group, birdied the 14th to reach 19 under but played her final four holes in 1 over to shoot 68 and finish tied for third with third-round leader Amy Yang (69).

Hyo Joo Kim (69) was fifth. Defending champion Jennifer Kupcho had a fourth-round 69 and finished in a tie for sixth with Jasmine Suwannapura (66). Ashleigh Buhai, the 34-year-old South African who won the ShopRite LPGA Classic last week in New Jersey, was a stroke off the lead entering the final round, but struggled to a 73 and tied for 13th.