Leona Maguire won the Ladies’ British Open Amateur Championship at Pyle & Kenfig defeating Spain’s Ainhoa Olarra 3&2 in the 18-hole final on the South Wales coast to seal the biggest amateur win of her career.
Maguire will now take her place in US Women’s Open next month and the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Kingsbarns, near St Andrews, in August, when she will aim to win the Smyth Salver as the low amateur for a second time after doing so at Woburn last year.
Maguire, who is number one in the women’s WORLD AMATEUR GOLF RANKING, becomes the first Irishwoman to win the championship. The 22-year-old from County Cavan made a flying start after dispatching a birdie opportunity on the 1st but the match returned to all-square on the following hole, Olarra saving par while Maguire struggled with a bogey.
Maguire found herself behind, remarkably for the first time in the championship’s entire match play stage, after Olarra, who won the Spanish Amateur Championship in 2013, picked up a birdie on the 3rd hole to move 1up.
The South Carolina University scholar saw her lead pulled back immediately when Maguire fought back with a birdie to win the 4th hole and was powerless to stop the Great Britain and Ireland international regaining control of the contest on the 5th hole after she rolled in a birdie on the par-5 to take a one hole advantage.
Maguire strengthened her position even further after winning the 7th and 9th holes to move 3up but Olarra reduced the deficit at the 10th. Nevertheless, the three-hole gap was restored on the 11th when the two-time McCormack Medal winner notched up her fifth birdie of the round and the Duke University student remained steady with a par on the 12th to go 4up after her Spanish opponent could only manage a bogey.
Olarra’s refused to throw in the towel and the youngster from San Sabastian halted Maguire’s momentum by winning two of the next three holes, producing a vital birdie on the 15th.
The match was decided on the following hole, however. Olarra had struggled with her putting throughout the match and a bogey on the 16th left Maguire with a par putt to win the championship which she duly rolled in for a 3&2 victory.