With 18 holes remaining at the LPGA Drive On Championship, Marina Alex and Leona Maguire ended the second round tied at the top of the leaderboard at -13, four strokes ahead of the pack. For both Alex and Maguire, this is only the second time in both of their LPGA Tour careers that they have held a lead/co-lead after 36 holes; for Alex, the last time was at the 2016 Manulife LPGA Classic, and Maguire led after the second day at the 2021 Meijer LPGA Classic. For Maguire, it’s only the third time since the 2021 Dana Open presented by Marathon that Maguire has opened an event with two-straight rounds in the 60s.
“Just been playing really solid, taking advantage of the shorter holes. My wedges have been really dialed in. Just staying really patient. I think that’s been the theme of the last two weeks in general with the wind we’ve been getting,” said Maguire, who posted a bogey-free 65 that included seven birdies. “Taking your chance where you get them, taking the pars on the tougher holes playing into the wind. Sort of coming down the stretch 14, 15, 16, were a grind back into the wind, but felt like I had put myself in a good position early on to sort of relax on the last few holes.
While Maguire is looking to become the season’s first Rolex First-Time Winner, Alex is looking for her first win since the 2018 Cambia Portland Classic. Alex, who also led after 18 holes this week, could become the fourth American to win an edition of the Drive On Championship, following in the footsteps of Danielle Kang (2020, Inverness Club), Ally Ewing (2020, Reynolds Lake Oconee), and Austin Ernst (2021, Golden Ocala).
“It’s been an interesting journey since — definitely since Portland, and probably even since Solheim. Pretty much since the COVID happened I feel like things haven’t really worked out in my favor, both physically and with my golf game, so it’s good to feel good,” said Alex, who has carded only one bogey through 36 holes at Crown Colony. “Knock on — there is no wood — but knock on wood. And I worked really hard with Claude Harmon, my coach middle of last year, but then specifically like once the season ended working on some changes in my swing that I feel will allow me to be a bit more consistent, which I’m hoping just really got grind on that tomorrow.”
Past U.S. Solheim Cup stars Stacy Lewis and Brittany Altomare are tied for third at -9 along with Epson Tour alum Linnea Johansson. Altomare and Lewis both recorded 5-under 67s, while Johansson posted a 69 after five birdies and two bogeys. Altomare said she credits meditating a couple times a week as a factor in her recent success and keeping focused on one shot at a time.
“I just always like thinking about solutions. I knew what the problem was, or I felt like this was one area I needed to get better at, and just thought that might be a good solution to the problem,” said Altomare. “So we’ll see how it goes. But so far I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s hard, but I’ve enjoyed it.”
Florida’s own Lexi Thompson joins fellow major champions Jeongeun Lee6 and Patty Tavatanakit in a tie for sixth at -8. Seven players sit in a tie for ninth, including three 2022 LPGA Tour rookies: Atthaya Thitikul, Pauline Roussin-Bouchard and Yaeeun Hong. 73 players made the cut at -1, including seven-time Tour winner Angela Stanford, who fired a 7-under 65 to jump from T115 into a tie for 45th at -2. Notables to miss the cut include Yuka Saso, who missed making the weekend by one after rebounding from an opening 77 with a second-round 67. This is Saso’s first missed cut on Tour since winning the U.S. Women’s Open and accepting Tour Membership.
WITH A WIN…
Leona Maguire would become the first native of Ireland to win on the LPGA Tour
Maguire, Brittany Altomare or Linnea Johansson would become the season’s first Rolex First-Time Winner
Maguire would collect her third professional title; In 2019, she was a two-time winner on the Epson Tour at the Windsor Golf Classic and the Symetra Classic
Maguire would jump 40 spots to No. 3 in the Race to the CME Globe rankings at 525.857 points, trailing only Danielle Kang (820 points) and Lydia Ko (572.5 points)
Marina Alex would earn her first victory since the 2018 Cambia Portland Classic (1,251 days ago)
Alex, Altomare or Stacy Lewis would become the second Americans to win in 2022
Lewis would move to $14,143,060 in career earnings with the $225,000 winner’s prize; she would become the seventh player in Tour history to cross the $14 million mark in career earnings
Lewis would earn her 14th career victory and first since the 2020 Trust Golf Women’s Scottish Open; she would be the 28th American to reach out least 14 wins in their Tour career
Maguire, Alex, Altomare, Lewis or Johansson would become the first LPGA Tour winner in Lee County, Fla., since Sandra Haynie defeated Pat Bradley in a playoff at Lochmoor Country Club for the 1975 Greater Fort Myers Classic.