The Pelican Women’s Championship, presented by Konica Minolta and Raymond James, is the 13th out of 18 stroke play events this season that Leona Maguire has opened with a sub-par round. Her bogey-free performance of 8 under 62 on Thursday at the Pelican Golf Club in Belleair, Fla., Was the second lowest score of her career, surpassed only by the 10 under 61 in the final round of the 2021 Amundi Evian Championship, marking the tournament Scoring record up.
“It was pretty stress-free. I played the par 3 really well and screwed everyone, which helped, ”said Maguire, who hit all 14 fairways. “It was just very, very solid. Hit a lot of greens, gave me a lot of chances and rolled some nice putts. “
It is the first time since the 2019 IOA Golf Classic on the Symetra Tour that Maguire’s swing trainer Shane O’Grady has attended a tournament. That same year, Maguire won twice to secure her spot as a Symetra Tour graduate and received LPGA Tour membership for the 2020 campaign. The work the duo did in the run-up to the Pelican Women’s Championship is paying off early.
“Actually, I put a 6 hybrid in my pocket this week and almost had a hole-in-one in third place today,” said Maguire. “I also made a small adjustment to my 9 wood and made a birdie with it to 15 so I knew I wasn’t far away. Shane hasn’t been out in two years so it was nice to have him here. Everything clicks well. “
Maguire’s play partner Sei Young Kim (64) and Lexi Thompson (65) also showed strong performances. Kim is solo runner-up, two shots behind Maguire, while Thompson leads a group of seven players who finished in third with 5.
“Well, no bogeys today, so I got a bit of confidence from being flawless,” said Kim, the defending champion of the Pelican Women’s Championship. “Hopefully I can make it through to the last lap.”
To Thompson, the confidence in her flatstick was evident.
“I definitely felt comfortable with my putter. I played aggressively and tried the few pins I could, ”said Thompson after a bogey-free round. “There are a few longer holes, but also a lot of shorter holes, so it’s important to take advantage of those and get pars on the harder ones.”
Nelly Korda, a native of Bradenton and Rolex ranking No. 1, is also in the contingent with -5. She picked up six birdies in her first round of competition at Pelican Golf Club on Thursday.
“I’ve actually played this golf course once before. It’s just new and was a lot firmer. The greens are definitely more receptive now. All in all, it’s a solid golf course, “said Korda, three-time winner in 2021.” The greens are the defense of this course and they are very tricky. The wind was definitely a factor today, here and there. I did key putt when I needed it and hit it pretty well. “
Monday qualifier Lauren Coughlin used seven birdies and an eagle to shoot under 5 on the first round, while Tampa-based Brittany Altomare -3 on the 14th after 18 holes. A total of 50 players shot under par compared to 21 players a year ago.