Alamy Stock Photo Leona Maguire of Ireland (file pic).
Leona Maguire suffers defeat in Match-Play semi-final
Japan’s Ayaka Furue, last year’s runner-up, ousted the Irish star.

THAILAND’S PAJAREE Anannarukarn and Japan’s Ayaka Furue advanced to the LPGA Match-Play championship final with morning semi-final triumphs on Sunday.

Pajaree won four of the last eight holes to defeat Sweden’s Linn Grant 3&1 while Furue, last year’s runner-up, ousted Ireland’s Leona Maguire 2&1 at Shadow Creek in Las Vegas, Nevada.

World number 97 Pajaree, 5-1 overall this week, and 18th-ranked Furue, unbeaten in six matches, will meet for the title on Sunday afternoon.

Furue, who lost 3&2 to South Korea’s Ji Eun-hee in last year’s final, is an eight-time Japan Tour winner who took her only LPGA title at last year’s Women’s Scottish Open.

Pajaree’s only LPGA victory came at the 2021 Handa World Invitational in Northern Ireland. She is a four-time winner on the Thailand tour.

Maguire, ranked 19th, and Furue each won two of the first five holes with pars.

Maguire birdied to win the par-4 sixth and took the par-5 seventh with a par, but Furue answered with an eagle at the par-5 ninth and a birdie at the par-4 10th to tie the match.

A day after her 23rd birthday, Furue won the 12th with a par and took the par-4 15th with a bogey to go 2-up with three to play and tied the par-5 16th and par-3 17th with pars to complete the victory.

Pajaree, who turns 24 on Tuesday, birdied the first two holes to go 2-up, but world number 22 Grant birdied the par-5 seventh and eagled the par-5 ninth to pull level.

The Thai standout birdied the par-4 10th and parred the 12th to restore her edge then birdied the par-4 14th for a 3-up lead. Grant birdied to win the par-5 16th but Pajaree took the par-3 17th with a par to advance.

– © AFP 2023

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