Landscape and shafts bring Maguire close to the top | LPGA

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Leona Maguire

NAPLES, FLORIDA | Tour life always takes time. Not for golf. You have the golf below for the most part. It’s all the other things that players have to figure out on professional tours.

One of the biggest questions you need to answer is, where will I live?

This answer is not always easy. American players have the advantage of instinctively understanding the nuances of different parts of the country, as well as knowing which cities are suitable for travel. Nelly Korda, for example, stayed in Bradenton, Florida, close enough to her parents to get some home-cooked food while still taking a leisurely ride to the Tampa airport. Those who grew up in other countries have a greater challenge. Gee Chun hung out in Lancaster, Pennsylvania for years with a family she became friends with during the 2015 US Women’s Open. Just over a year ago, Chun bought a house in Dallas, near Sei Young Kim and So Yeon Ryu. The three-time major winner Anna Nordqvist from Sweden lives in Phoenix, where she went to school in the state of Arizona. Nordqvist has many friends in Arizona and considers the state their home.

Leona Maguire, who spent four years in Durham, North Carolina, played for Duke, and then did a year on the Symetra tour, tried Arizona for a while. It was certainly warmer and more comfortable than in their native County Cavan, Ireland, where July is the hottest month of the year with an average temperature of 59 degrees and rainfall for 19 of the 31 days. It turned out that desert life was not for them.

Maguire now lives on Lake Nona in Orlando. This step made all the difference.

“I think the facilities there are so good,” said Maguire on Saturday after a 66 in the third round of the CME Group Tour Championship. “That was something that (I lost) the transition from college to the professional ranks. Obviously in college I had a lot of people to play with, a lot of people to practice, Monday games, all of those things. We had our qualifiers in college which used to be more competitive, we played with Celine (Boutier) and people like that every week when we were at home.

“Well (I can now) repeat that a bit with Nona. Nasa (Hataoka) is here. Lydia (Ko) is here. Anne (van Dam) is here. The Jutanugarns are here. Annika (Sorenstam spends nine months a year there). I played a few rounds with Annika at the beginning of the year, which helped a lot. I think it was good for me to be in this environment. Really nice facilities to work on my game. (Live there) there really are no excuses. In December, January and February the weather is much nicer than in Ireland. “

Maguire goes into the final round on Sunday with 12 under par, two strokes after the foursome for the lead of Nelly Korda, Jin Young Ko, Nasa Hataoka and Boutier.

As a two-time winner of the Mark H. McCormack medal as the best amateur in the world, Maguire won the Symetra Tour twice in 2019, but has still found the winners of the LPGA Tour. But it is coming. Everyone can see it. Her ball hit is too good and she hits too many good putts for everything not to click soon.

“I’ve hit my irons much better this year,” said Maguire of her game in 2021, in which she took four top 10 finishes and a breakout performance at the Solheim Cup. “I hit a lot more greens. My irons have always been one of my strengths. They turned out a little bit last year. I’ve played around with different irons and the irons I played late last year just didn’t really work. Then I went back to graphite shafts and they were much more consistent. I’m back in the process of giving myself a lot more birdie chances, continued to work on my putting, and pocketed more putts. And I’ve put a little more distance.

“All in all, I feel like all parts of my game have gotten a little better and I’m feeling a little more comfortable every week. Playing with the best players in the world, in my opinion, increases your game without you even realizing it. “

Maguire smiled and said, “They are the best players in the world. I think there are a lot of people in really good shape right now. Jin Young, Nelly, Lexi, Lydia: I mean, it’s the who’s who of the LPGA tour this week. I think everyone came to play. I played with Celine on the first day and she really didn’t go wrong.

“Well, I think the course is built as hard as possible. There are a couple of teas. But I think it’s only world class golfers who hit world class shots. “

Where does Maguire put himself on the who’s who list?

“I mean, I don’t have as much on my resume as many of them,” she said. “I’m going there. I’m working my way up.”

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