Marina Alex and Ireland’s Leona Maguire separated themselves from the pack Friday to share the second-round lead at the LPGA Drive On Championship in Fort Myers, Florida.
Maguire carded a bogey-free, seven-under-par 65, tying for the low round of the day, to jump up to 13-under. Later in the afternoon, Alex birdied her final two holes to polish off a six-under 66 and tie Maguire.
“I was kind of losing a little steam, but happy to finish birdie-birdie,” Alex said. “I kind of feel like I blacked out a little bit out there towards the end because I was so tired and I was like, All right, we’re almost done.’”
Alex also shared the lead after the first round at Crown Colony Golf & Country Club. She sank seven birdies Friday and made just one bogey.
Maguire and Alex are four shots better than Brittany Altomare (67), Stacy Lewis (67) and Sweden’s Linnea Johansson (69), who are tied for third at nine-under. Lexi Thompson (67), South Korea’s Jeongeun Lee6 (69) and Thailand’s Patty Tavatanakit (70) are at eight-under in a tie for sixth.
Alex is hunting for her second LPGA Tour title after her lone victory came at the 2018 Cambia Portland Classic. She said she’s working on internalising some swing changes she made after the end of last season.
“That’s going to be my focus,” Alex said. “I’m probably going to want to revert to some old tendencies and all that ... it’s good. It’ll keep me disciplined through my routine, which is really important, and I think that will be helpful to just kind of not worry about the result.” Maguire is looking to break through for her first win; the former No. 1-ranked amateur in the world had five top-10s, including two second-place finishes, in 2021.
“I’m a year older, I guess,” Maguire said when asked about her confident demeanor. “I think last year maybe I tried to chase things a little bit too much, put a bit too much pressure on myself, tried to force things a little bit.” Maguire made the turn at 3 under before piling up three straight birdies at Nos. 11-13.
“It’s all about momentum,” Maguire said. “Sort of felt like I left a few out there on the front nine, and then it was nice to get those three in a row on those sort of shorter holes, and then felt like I just needed to play the last few holes solid, which I did.”
Japan’s Nasa Hataoka, who shared the first-round lead with Alex, took a step backward Friday with a three-over 75 that pushed her down to four-under.