After a three-week hiatus from LPGA Tour competition, Ireland’s Leona Maguire came out swinging on Wednesday at the Bank of Hope LPGA Match-Play presented by MGM Rewards, defeating Epson Tour graduate Linnea Strom, 4 and 2, on day one of round-robin pool play. Maguire threw the first punch, winning the second hole with a par to go 1 up, but Strom recovered quickly, making par on the next to square the match. Maguire then won three of the next four holes, going birdie-par-par-birdie to move to 3 up through seven. Strom cut her deficit to two holes with a par on No. 8, but Maguire threw a one-two punch on holes 9 and 10, extending her lead to 4 up with a birdie and a par. Though Strom tried her best to mount a late charge with wins on 11 and 12, Maguire moved back to 3 up with a win on No. 13 and closed out the match on No. 16, making par to win, 4 and 2.
“It's been three weeks off for me, so nice to get back into the swing of things. I think is one of the best golf courses we play all year. It's in such great shape. You really have to execute your shots,” said Maguire. “Drove the ball nice today. Let a few go. Wasn't the tidiest round but holed a couple nice putts when I needed to, and good momentum heading into tomorrow.”
This is Maguire’s fourth season on the LPGA Tour and her eighth start of the 2023 season. She has recorded three top-20 finishes, including two top 10s, a T9 at the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions and a T6 at the Honda LPGA Thailand. She has one win to her credit, the 2022 LPGA Drive On Championship at Crown Colony, but Maguire’s biggest claim to fame is her performance at the 2021 Solheim Cup. She dominated in her debut, going 4-0-1 to help Europe retain the Cup, and was arguably the MVP of the week at Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio. The 19th edition of the Solheim Cup is set to take place this September in Spain at Finca Cortesin and while it seems like a long way away, this week’s match-play format is certainly a reminder for Maguire of what’s coming this fall.
“We're quite a ways out from Solheim. September seems a long way away, even though this year seems to be going by really quick,” Maguire said. “I didn't play last year, but this is the tournament I was looking forward to. I like match play, especially the fact we don't get to do it very often. Two more days and hopefully the weekend ahead. You just have to take every match as it comes. Play whoever is in front of you, try and play as well as you possibly can, and if it's enough, it's enough.”