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Apr 5, 2024 9:46 pm

Leona Maguire cruises, Nelly Korda surges into Match Play quarters

leona maguire

Ireland’s Leona Maguire cruised into the weekend while the rest of the field scrambled to advance out of stroke play on Friday in the third round of the T-Mobile Match Play at Las Vegas.

Maguire responded to a bogey on the second hole with four birdies and no bogeys the rest of the round for a 3-under-par 69. That left her at 6-under 210 for the tournament to clear the field by three strokes in windy and cold conditions at Shadow Creek Golf Course.

“Today was a big mental win for me,” Maguire said. “I think going out we knew the conditions were going to be tough. It was going to be windy, it was going to be swirling, the greens were going to get firm in the afternoon.”

The field was cut to the top 65 players and ties after 36 holes on Wednesday and Thursday, then trimmed to the top eight after stroke play on Friday. Saturday morning will begin the single-elimination match-play bracket, with the semifinals taking place Saturday afternoon and the championship match contested on Sunday.

Angel Yin (1-over 73 on Friday), Rose Zhang (73) and Japan’s Minami Katsu (72) tied for second at 3 under. Yin and Zhang were co-leaders after Thursday with first-round leader Sei Young Kim of South Korea, who wound up alone in fifth at 2 under after a 74.

Another co-leader going into Friday, Spain’s Carlota Ciganda, blew up with a 13-over 85 and and fell to a tie for 32nd place. Ciganda carded one triple bogey, three double bogeys and four bogeys with the remainder pars.

World No. 1 Nelly Korda made a huge rise up the leaderboard with 69 on Friday, moving from a tie for 20th to sixth place to earn a spot in match play and preserve her chance for a fourth consecutive LPGA Tour victory.

She posted four birdies on the front nine, with then had two bogeys and one birdie on the back nine.

“We thought that maybe 1 over to 2 over would kind of get in,” Korda said, “so wasn’t focused too much on a score with the tough conditions and just taking it shot by shot and just seeing — this golf course is already hard enough without any wind, without it dropping in temperature as well.

“So just focused on really one shot at a time and it worked today.”

Korda shot 73 in each of the first two rounds. She is attempting to be the first LPGA player to win four straight starts since Lorena Ochoa in 2008.

“Nelly is the best player in the world right now,” Maguire said. “She’s playing great golf, so no surprise she’s in the match play. The conditions on the golf course brings out the best in everybody, and it’s no surprise to see some of the best players in the world up near the top of the leaderboard.

“I’m sure Nelly is going to be a tough match for whoever she plays. She’s been on quite a roll and very impressive to watch.”

Narin An of South Korea fired a 72 and made Friday’s cut at even par.

Four players — Japan’s Yuka Saso, Canada’s Brooke Henderson, — South Korea’s Hae Ran Ryu and Thailand’s Moriya Jutanugarn — finished tied for eighth at 2 over and went to playoff for the final berth.

Ryu bogeyed the first extra hole and was eliminated before the remaining three players parred the second playoff hole. On the third extra hole, the par-4 No. 12, Jutanugarn made a birdie to book her place in the match-play bracket.

Defending champion Pajaree Anannarukarn of Thailand tied for 62nd at 14 over after a 77 on Friday.

–Field Level Media

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