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BELMONT, Mich. — As the holes were filling up on Leona Maguire’s scorecard, it looked like she’d been in a tie for first place heading into the weekend at the Meijer LPGA Classic.

Then her final three holes happened.

The Ireland native finished with a par, eagle and a 30-foot birdie to take a three-shot lead at the end of the second round. She finished the day 8 under to make her total score for the tournament 15 under, three shots better than her closest competitor.

“We were kind of in-between clubs. I absolutely flushed a 5 hybrid, [it] went way further than I thought and pitched pin high and stayed on the green,” Duncan said. “And another really nice putt on nine, that pin was really tucked. I just tried to be disciplined, played 30 feet right of the hole and took my chance.”

She started the round hot, shooting a 5-under 31 on her first nine. But a couple of errant drives cost her once she made the turn, and she turned in consecutive bogeys. Still, she got back on track, going 5 under over her final five holes.

The 26-year-old had to fend off challengers Suh Oh (12 under), who finished 7 under on the day, and Lindy Duncan (11 under ), who also shot 7 under. Maguire said she’s used to having one good day at a tournament, but usually can’t string together consecutive solid days. Her impressive performance has given her confidence heading into the final two rounds.

“Was really proud of how I came out today,” Maguire said. “Last week in San Francisco I was leading after day one and struggled on day two, so it was nice to put a really good number back to back in rounds one and two and even go one better today.”

While she’s in the driver’s seat for her first LPGA win, Duncan is sitting just four shots back looking for her first title as well. It was a career day for the South Floridian, shooting 5 under on her back nine to take the lead into the clubhouse until Maguire and Oh overtook her late in the afternoon.

Even though there was a two-hour rain delay in the morning before she was able to tee off, that might have helped Duncan. She said the greens felt smoother and slower, which let her play a bit more aggressively. But the wet weather still made for its own challenges.

“I think the front nine it was pretty receptive and the greens were definitely rolling a bit smoother,” Duncan said. “I kind of just tried to take it one hole at a time and just take notes as I went on and just tried to pay attention to those little things…it was definitely changing.”

Oh, who took off in the afternoon, is just three shots back of Maguire. She had a bogey-free round Friday and has played just one hole over par through the first two days.

Still, she’s not getting too far ahead of herself thinking of glory. She doesn’t have a score in mind she wants to hit the rest of the weekend. The Australian is just taking it one shot at a time.

“[I] just kind of kept my cool. I think that was quite good,” Oh said. “I guess just have to kind of hit one shot and then the next shot and see how it turns out, just kind of keep it going.”

Nelly Korda, the No. 2-ranked player in the world, made a move on Friday. She shot 6 under for the day, bringing her overall score to 10 under, well within striking distance.

“The greens were definitely a lot softer today so you could be more aggressive,” Korda said. “So I could really hit my numbers today, and I had a lot of good numbers going in.”

The surprise of the tournament is that two-time Meijer LPGA Classic winner Brooke Henderson missed the cut. She shot a 75 on Thursday and rebounded with a 5 under 67 but it wasn’t enough. She finished 2 under, 1 off the cutline.

But back at the top, Maguire is living in the moment. She and Duncan both played college golf at Duke, though they never crossed paths in Durham. Still, they’ve become close friends, practicing together outside of Orlando.

As they head into the final rounds in West Michigan, the two Blue Devils might have to go head to head for their first tournament victory.

“We practice and play together quite a bit,” Maguire said. “She’s been a good friend of mine, and it’ll be nice to go head-to-head with her down the stretch this weekend.”


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