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Ireland’s Maguire captures first LPGA title by three strokes

MIAMI (AFP) – Ireland’s Leona Maguire captured her first LPGA title on Saturday, firing a five-under par 67 to win the Drive On Championship by three strokes.

The 27-year-old former amateur world number one sank seven birdies against two bogeys to finish on 18-under 198 for the 54-hole event at Crown Colony in Fort Myers, Florida.

“It has been a long time coming. You don’t know if it’s actually going to happen until it does,” Maguire said.

“I tried to stay really patient today and didn’t get ahead of myself. Wanted to go out and just shoot a number. I didn’t want anybody to have to hand it to me. I wanted to go out and win it myself.”

Maguire kept calm under the pressure of delivering the biggest triumph of her career.

“Just really proud of the way I played,” she said. “I was trying to go out and shoot 20-under par. That was my goal today. I was feeling really calm. Was staying in the moment.”

American Lexi Thompson fired a final-round 65 to grab second on 201, one stroke ahead of compatriot Sarah Schmelzel, who shot 64.

China’s Lin Xiyu, who had a 63, shared fourth on 203 with Thailand’s Patty Tavatanakit and Americans Stacy Lewis, Marina Alex and Brittany Altomare.

Maguire, the first Irish winner of an LPGA event, had the lowest final-round score in a major by any man or woman with a 61 at last year’s Evian Championship in France.

“She’s such an amazing player, Thompson said of Maguire. “She has been striking it well and has made some great putts out here this week. She’s an amazing talent and I think (the victory) will help her out a lot.”

Leona Maguire of Ireland kisses the trophy. PHOTO: AFP