By Ronan MacNamara
Leona Maguire. Photo by Golffile
The Women’s US Open last week was one of the most enjoyable and most dramatic tournaments in many a year. Yuka Saso of the Philippines pipped Nasa Hataoka in a playoff after an outrageous back-nine collapse from Lexi Thompson where she coughed up a five shot lead. Unlike the PGA Tour the week either side of a major championship, a star-studded field heads to Daly City in California for the MEDIHEAL Championship this week.
Nine of the world’s top-15 players tee it up after a gruelling test at the Olympic Club last week. Sei Young Kim defends the title she won in 2019 – beating Bronte Law and Jeongeun Lee6 in a playoff. Leona Maguire returns to action after a week off while Stephanie Meadow comes in off the back of a missed cut at the US Open.
This is the third edition of this event which has been staged on the Willie Lock designed layout at Lake Mecred Golf Club since its inception in 2018. Lydia Ko is the other previous winner of this event, winning in 2018.
Leona Maguire has seen her early season momentum stall after back-to-back missed cuts followed her runner up finish in Hawaii either side of her return home to her native Cavan. The world number 92 let an opportunity slip from her grasp at the recent match-play event where she failed to capitalise on an opening day win over eventual champion Ally Ewing. Maguire was 5-up on American Jennifer Kupcho before the latter staged an impressive comeback to steal a half point. Unfortunately for the former world number one amateur, she was undone by Solheim Cup veteran and match-play specialist Christina Kim in her final group game to miss out on a place in the knockout stages.
It was hard to watch the US Open unfold at the Olympic without the thought of how Maguire might have done gnawing at the back of my mind. A solid player from tee to green with a dazzling short game and gutsy attitude. Still, she can bring all those qualities to Lake Mecred this week.
The 26-year-old is 47th in driving accuracy hitting 76% of her fairways while complimenting that with a marked improvement in her iron play hitting 72% of greens in regulation this season. Maguire ranks 14th in putts per green in regulation and 26th in putting average overall. A solid combination heading to what appears to be a tough golf course given the scoring in the previous two editions of this event.
Stephanie Meadow. Photo by Golffile
It was a tough week for Stephanie Meadow at the US Open as she missed the cut with an opening round 76 leaving her with too much to do. She did rally on the front nine going out in one-under to give herself a chance of making the cut, but the brutal back-nine caught up with the Jordanstown native and she headed home early. Meadow only hit 8/14 fairways in round one which left her hacking her way out of the thick rough at the Olympic Club.
The world number 112 missed the cut at the MEDIHEAL Championship in 2019 and has struggled to put four rounds of golf together in any tournament so far despite only missing three cuts so far this season. The 29-year-old is currently 89th in the Race to CME Globe standings so needs to find some consistency in order to force her way into the safety net of the top 60.
The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship is in two weeks so the next fortnight represents an opportunity for both women to find some form heading to Johns Creek in Georgia and get what seemed a promising season for Irish ladies golf back on track after an underwhelming few weeks.