Ireland’s Leona Maguire sank nine birdies on her way to an opening-round, 7-under 65 Thursday to take the lead at the LPGA Mediheal Championship at Lake Merced Golf Club in Daly City, Calif.
Jasmine Suwannapura of Thailand birdied Nos. 15 and 18 to make a late run up the leaderboard, finishing alone in second at 6 under. Albane Valenzuela of Switzerland and Alison Lee are tied for third at 4 under.
Maguire felt the Northern California course was reminiscent of those she is used to in Ireland. Maguire’s first professional win in the U.S. came in 2019 at a Symetra Tour event in the same part of the state.
“I suppose first arriving it felt like home,” Maguire said. “It’s a lot of the same style of golf course, same weather as home. Got a nice feeling straight away when we arrived on Monday.”
Maguire, 26, came close to winning her first LPGA Tour title in April when she tied for second at the Lotte Championship.
She started her first round Thursday on No. 10 and produced six birdies on her opening nine holes. She could have turned in a 64 had she not bogeyed the final hole of her day, the par-5 ninth.
“Birdied my opening two holes, which kind of settled me in quite nicely, holed some really good putts and in general it was a pretty stress-free day,” Maguire said. “Hit a lot of fairways, hit a lot of greens and, yeah, my putting was nice. I felt like I putted really well in Vegas (her last event) and sort of kept that going here, which was nice.”
Lee wound up carding a double-bogey on No. 14 — only to regain both those strokes back the very next hole with an eagle on No. 15, a par-5.
“I was very upset after 14. I just made a really dumb mistake,” Lee said. “Tried to make par and ended up making a double, so I was obviously a little bit upset on the tee box, and I hit a really good drive.
“I hit a good drive, a good second shot. I hit a 5-iron in. Yeah, just turned out great, and I had a nice tap-in eagle putt. Definitely was an easy hole.”
World No. 2 Inbee Park, a seven-time major champ from South Korea, is part of a six-way tie for fifth at 3-under 69. Thailand’s Patty Tavatanakit, winner of the 2021 ANA Inspiration, the season’s first major, carded a 2-under 70.
Lexi Thompson opened with a 1-under 71 four days after her back-nine collapse at the U.S. Women’s Open.
–Field Level Media
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