Though she put up a valiant effort, firing a 9-under 63 in round three to put herself in the final group on Sunday, Ireland’s Leona Maguire just couldn’t get her engines going on day four at the CME Group Tour Championship. Starting the day at -15 and tied atop the leaderboard with major champion Lydia Ko, Maguire immediately jumped ahead after Ko bogeyed the par-5 first. Ko tied it again with a birdie on the third and Maguire answered with one on No. 4, but quickly erased it with a bogey on 5. A Ko birdie on the par-3 eighth gave her a one-shot lead as the pair made the turn, and each would start the back nine with pars on holes 10 through 13. The par-5, 14th saw both Ko and Maguire find the penalty area with their second shots and ultimately make bogeys, putting Maguire one back with four to play. Ko made back-to-back birdies on the 16th and 17th, and while Maguire matched her birdie on 17 she couldn’t make up any ground on the last, losing by two to now 19-time LPGA Tour winner Ko.
“It was an incredible week. A really great way to finish off the season. If you had offered me second at the start of the week, I would have grabbed it with both hands,” said Maguire, who also finished runner-up at the Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give. “It would have been nice to play a little bit better today, but it was really tough out there. The wind was strong. It was cold. Pins were tricky. Had some really key up-and-downs to keep me in it and keep a little pressure on Lydia, but she played really solid all day today and she's a deserving winner.”
The 2022 season was quite friendly to the 27-year-old Irishwoman. Maguire became a Rolex First-Time Winner earlier this year at the LPGA Drive On Championship at Crown Colony and earned three additional top-five finishes, including a tie for fourth at the AIG Women’s Open. She also has four other top 10s on her 2022 resume, most notably a tie for eighth at the U.S. Women’s Open presented by ProMedica. While missing out on the historic $2 million winner’s check stings a bit, and she would’ve loved to don the bright blue CME Group blazer, it’s all about perspective and that’s something that Maguire has in spades, despite her short Tour tenure.
“It's mixed emotions. Obviously, I would have loved to have won, but four years ago pretty much this week I missed Q-School by a shot. I drove by that exit on Sunday driving down here, and to be here today in this position, it's a big jump forward,” Maguire said. “It's been an incredible year. It's been my best season so far, and I've gotten better every year. Looking forward to the off-season now and hopefully can have an even better 2023.”