Leona Maguire continued her sensational college golf season when she birdied the second extra hole to claim her second sudden-death victory of the year in the ACC Individual Championship in North Carolina.
The 20-year old from Co Cavan, ranked No 1 in the US the Golfweek/Sagarin women’s individual rankings, was mobbed by delighted Duke University team-mates, including her twin sister Lisa, when she beat Virginia senior Briana Mao after they had tied on 10 under par 206 at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro.
“I’ve been playing pretty solid all year,” Leona told Duke Sports Information. “It feels really good to get the win. To get an ACC title, it doesn’t really get much better than that.
“It is as pretty much as dramatic as it gets. Me and Briana had a great battle all day today. It was tied right up to the very end. To come out on top, after such a long tournament and such tough weather conditions is just great.”
The weather delayed, 54-event saw the players forced to play 27 holes over two days rather than three and Maguire, who led by two strokes after a five-birdie 68 in round two, proved too tough.
In the final round, the Slieve Russell star started slowly with 10 successive pars and fell behind Mao on the back nine before notching a birdie at the 11th to move back into a share of the lead.
Both golfers parred the next three holes, before sinking short birdies on the 445-yard, par five 15th. But after two more pars apiece, they both missed birdie putts for the overall win at the 486-yard, par five 18th and ended up playing off.
“She made a lot of birdies on the front nine and really came at me,” said Leona, who admitted she thought she had finished one behind in the end. “I was just trying to stick with her the whole way and I knew if I could keep giving myself chances hopefully I would get a few birdies and catch up with her. I guess I did that in the end so that was great.
"I honestly thought I was one behind. I guess I calculated it a little bit wrong on the score. So I thought on 18 I was one behind, so I only realised coming off the green that I was in a playoff.”
The tandem went back to the 18th and Maguire’s tee shot went down the left side, but she was able to hit her approach down to a good landing area for her third shot up at the green.
Mao went for the green in two and found sand and while both had birdie putts, they were forced to settle for pars once again.
Returning to the 18th tee the third time, both golfers hit good tee shots but Maguire decided to hit five-wood into the landing area for an approach as Mao went for the green again and found sand for the third straight time.
Maguire hit a super third to within a couple of feet of the hole and after Mao two-putted for par, she stepped up and sank her short birdie putt to claim her second career tournament title in playoffs.
“It was great,” commented Duke head coach Dan Brooks on Maguire’s victory. “On the last playoff hole, a par 5, she hit a five-wood to a landing area right in front of the green.
“I think most players that don’t think as clearly as she does would have either tried to hit a three-wood on the green or laid up well short.
"Instead, she found that little spot right in front of the green because she felt that she could get it up and down for birdie. That is just knowing your game and being really smart.”
As a team, Duke placed second overall with rounds of 286, 288 and 289 for a 54-hole score of one-under, 863. Virginia shot a tournament-record 27-under-par, 837.
Lisa Maguire, who finished tied 50th after three successive 78s, played her final seven holes in one-under thanks to birdies at the 15th and 18th.
Duke await the NCAA Regional selection show on Monday, April 27. The regional sites for 2015 are Raleigh, N.C., San Antonio, Texas, Notre Dame, Ind., and St. George, Utah.
Leona Maguire's 2014-15 season with Duke
- Sept 16 Cougar Classic, Charleston, S.C. T5
- Sept 20 Annika Intercollegiate Orlando, Fla. 2nd
- Oct 12 Tar Heel Invitational, Chapel Hill, N.C. T3
- Oct 26 Landfall Tradition, Wilmington, N.C. 7th
- Feb 10 Northrop Grumman Challenge, Palos Verdes, Calif. T38
- Mar 08 Darius Rucker Intercollegiate, Hilton Head, S.C. 1st (after play-off)
- Mar 29 Liz Murphey Collegiate. Athens, Ga., Team Matchplay
- Apr 12 PING/ASU Invitational Tempe, Ariz., T3
- Apr 18 ACC Championship, Greensboro, N.C. 1st (after play-off)
Duke Results — ACC Individual Championship, Greensboro
1 Leona Maguire Duke 68 68 70 206 -10
6 Gurbani Singh Duke 70 69 72 211 -5
28 Celine Boutier Duke 73 74 74 221 +5
T36 Sandy Choi Duke 75 77 73 225 +9
T50 Lisa Maguire Duke 78 78 78 234 +18
1 Virginia 280 279 278 837 -27
2 Duke 286 288 289 863 -1
T3 North Carolina 289 290 287 866 +2
T3 Florida State 281 293 292 866 +2
T3 Wake Forest 288 281 297 866 +2
6 Notre Dame 287 295 294 876 +12
7 Louisville 291 297 296 884 +20
T8 NC State 296 295 296 887 +23
T8 T8 Clemson 292 298 297 887 +23
T8 10 Miami 294 296 303 893 +29
11 Boston College 303 305 306 914 +50