GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — Leona Maguire shot a 8-under 64 on Friday to take a three-stroke lead in the Meijer LPGA Classic, the second straight week the Irish rookie has topped a leaderboard.
The 26-year-old former Duke player is trying to become the first Irish winner in LPGA Tour history. Last week in California, she tied for ninth in the LPGA Mediheal Championship after leading after the first round.
“Everybody is going low. You know you have to go low,” Maguire said. “There is not really time to look around or even look behind. It’s sort of keep your foot down and keep going, make as many birdies as you can.”
Maguire had a 15-under 129 total at Blythefield Country Club. After rain and thunderstorms delayed the start two hours, Maguire birdied five her first nine holes, bogeyed Nos. 1 and 2. She birdied Nos. 4 and 6, eagled the par-5 eighth and closed with a birdie on the par-4 ninth.
“You can’t really protect a lead,” Maguire said. “You can’t just try and make pars and stuff. You have to sort of go for everything. You have to hit a lot fairways out here. It’s tough when you get in the rough. I knew all about that on 1 and 2.”
Su Oh of Australia was second after a bogey-free 65.
“I hit a lot of greens. I think I only missed one or two,” Oh said. “Then, I actually holed a bomb on 2, I think, like 60 feet. I was like, `Oh, here comes a bogey.′ But it went in to my surprise."
Linda Duncan was 11 under after a 65.
“I made two pretty long ones on the back nine on holes like 13 or 16, something like that, and that really kept the momentum going,” said Duncan, also a former Duke player. “And then a two-putt birdie on 18 was great to finish.”
Nelly Korda shot a 66 to get to 10 under, matching Anna Nordqvist (67), Mina Harigae (66), Brittany Altomare (66) and Lizette Salas (66).
“The greens were definitely a lot softer today so you could be more aggressive,” Korda said after her morning round. “Yesterday in to the afternoon they were really slow, but really bouncy and firm. It was like a really weird combo.”
Lexi Thompson, the 2015 winner, had her second 68 to reach 8 under.
Top-ranked Young Ko was 6 under after her second 69. Sixty-year-old Juli Inkster was another stroke back after a 68.
Brooke Henderson, the winner in 2017 and 2019 in the event that was canceled last year, missed the cut by a stroke after rounds of 75 and 67. The Canadian played for the first time since 2016 without sister Brittany — sidelined by visa problems — at her side as her caddie.
The major KPMG Women’s PGA Championship is next week at Atlanta Athletic Club.