On the day before her mother’s birthday, Leona Maguire decided to gift her with the performance of a lifetime at the LPGA Drive On Championship. After a final-round 67, Maguire cruised into the winner’s circle for the first time in her LPGA Tour career, becoming the first woman from Ireland to win in the Tour’s history. Her 198 ties her career-best 54-hole score, last recorded at the 2021 Pelican Women’s Championship.
“Hasn't really sunk in yet. It's a bit surreal. It's been a long time coming and I suppose you don't know it's going to happen until it actually does,” said Maguire. “Tried to just stay really patient today. Didn't get ahead of myself. Wanted to go out and just shoot a number. Didn't want anybody to have to hand it to me. I wanted to go out and win it myself and earn it. Yeah, just really proud of the way I played today.”
Heading into the final day tied for the lead with Marina Alex, Maguire said she didn’t look at leaderboards until the fairway on No. 18 and didn’t know how the results were beginning to net out. After carding her first birdie on No. 2, Maguire picked up speed after a bogey on No. 3 with back-to-back birdies on Nos. 7 and 8 and closed with a 33 on her back-nine holes.
“I think the birdie on 7 was huge. Brittany [Altomare] had gone on that run early, and as I expected, I knew someone was going to go low today. I was just trying to keep up with her and Marina early on.
That birdie on 7 and 8 as well out of the pine straw was huge for momentum making the turn, and then another two on 10 and 11. I thought the shot on 11 was in,” said Maguire. “But, yeah, just some really solid iron shots to set up those chances.”
Finishing in solo second was 11-time LPGA Tour winner Lexi Thompson. Playing in the penultimate grouping five strokes back of the lead, Thompson played her first seven holes 7-under, which included an eagle on No. 10. Finishing with a birdie on No. 18 after a bogey on 16, Thompson posted a final-round 65 and at -15 overall.
“I think it's all about just putting myself in contention. I've put in the work in the off-season, hours on the putting green, hours in the gym, and just working on myself and improvement. There's all I want to see. As athletes we just continue to try to improve on our games and ourselves, and that's what I see. We just want to see the hard work pay off,” said Thompson, who last won at the 2019 ShopRite LPGA Classic. “Just going to continue to work hard and stay in the moment and put myself in contention and hopefully a win will come.”
Sarah Schmelzel made six birdies in her final seven holes to jump up the leaderboard into third at -14, her career-best finish on the LPGA Tour. Five players tied for fourth at -13, including Brittany Altomare, who got off to a hot start thanks to five-straight birdies on Nos. 2-6.
“I kind of literally could not have asked for a better start to my day. I was hitting the ball well and was seeing the putts really well. They were falling, which is nice. But ultimately, I just made too many mistakes coming in,” said Altomare, who posted a Saturday 68. “I felt like I like made a lot of birdies but I couldn't eliminate some mistakes. I think that was kind of the deal.”
LPGA Tour rookie Pauline Roussin-Bouchard and major champion Jeongeun Lee6 rounded out the top 10 in a tie for ninth at -12. Nelly Korda’s 8-under 64 moved her into a tie for 15th (-10) after starting the day at T45. Xiyu Lin and Aditi Ashok carded the lowest rounds of the week with a pair of 63s, both new career-low 18-hole scores.