Golf: Leona Maguire makes history in winning Drive On Championship

Leona Maguire is the first native of Ireland to win on the LPGA Tour. PHOTO: AFP

(REUTERS) - Leona Maguire cruised to a five-under 67 on Saturday (Feb 5) and finished off a three-stroke victory at the LPGA Drive On Championship at Fort Myers, Florida, to become the first native of Ireland to win on the LPGA Tour.

Maguire's first career victory came after finishing the 54-hole event at 18-under 198 at Crown Colony Golf & Country Club.

"It's huge for Irish golf," Maguire said.

"There was never an Irish player on the Tour, let alone a winner. Hopefully, there is a lot of people watching at home tonight with big smiles on their faces and little girls watching knowing they can do that, too."

Lexi Thompson used a seven-under 65 in the final round to finish alone in second place at 15 under. Sarah Schmelzel (64) finished alone in third place another shot back at 14 under.

Marina Alex, who was tied for the lead with Maguire heading into Saturday's final round, shot an even-par 72 to finish in a five-way tie for fourth place along with Stacy Lewis (68), Brittany Altomare (68), Thailand's Patty Tavatanakit (67) and China's Xiyu Lin, who tied for the low round of the day with a 63.

Maguire, 27, highlighted her final round with seven birdies, the last coming at the par-four 16th hole. She had a pair of bogeys, the last at 18, but the victory was well in hand by then.

"I think just stay really patient," Maguire said.

"I felt like I did a really good job of that this week. I knew my game was close. I did a lot of hard work in the off-season. Yeah, finally got there in the end."

Thompson had an eagle at No. 10 and a birdie on her final hole of the day but still was unable to catch Maguire, who had four of her seven birdies on the back nine to close out the field.

"I knew I still had to continue to make birdies because I played with Leona the first two days and she's been hitting it amazing," Thompson said.

"I knew I had to make birdies to get even closer."

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