Stephanie Meadow and Leona Maguire keep focused on major challenge

Stephanie Meadow is preparing for the ANA Inspiration which gets under way on Thursday
Stephanie Meadow is preparing for the ANA Inspiration which gets under way on Thursday

Stephanie Meadow and world number one amateur Leona Maguire will complete their preparations on Wednesday ahead of the first major of the year, the ANA Inspiration which gets under way on Thursday.

Ulster and Ireland representative Maguire earned her invite play in the event thanks to an agreement between the Ladies European Tour (LET) and the European Golf Association (EGA).

The Duke University golfer, a product of the Slieve Russell GC in Co Cavan has already proven she can mix it with the professionals.

The 21-year-old finished second at the Ladies European Masters on the LET last July and made the cut at the Evian Championship in September.

Meadow turned professional in 2014 and made a lightening start to her pro career when she finished third at the Women’s US Open at Pinehurst.

She missed out on an LPGA tour card at qualifying stage III in December 2015 and will compete mainly on the Symetra Tour this season.

US star Brittany Lincicome will be defending her title at the Dinah Shore Tournament Course at Mission Hills Country Club.

Meanwhile, Jonathan Yates (Naas GC) defeated Daniel Holland (Castle) 2&1 to win the West of Ireland Championship at Co Sligo on Tuesday.

The 22-year-old, who beat the 2015 championDermot McElroy (Ballymena GC) by a hole in the morning semifinals, lost the opening hole of the final but once he got his nose in front on the fifth, he never looked back.

One ahead at the turn, Yates made a nine-footer for birdie at 12th to give himself a cushion. By the time Holland got one back at 16, after Yates short-sided himself, the holes were running out. Unable to make par from the right hand side of 17, Holland’s brave run came to an end.

“It was nice to hole a putt on the last, there was something nice about going out and winning it rather than Dan doing something to lose,” Yates told www.golfnet.ie.

For Holland, who scored a notable 5&4 victory against Ireland international Colm Campbell (Warrenpoint GC) in the semi-finals, it’s back to the University exams after a superb week in the West.

“I’ve to get back into the studies now, I’m doing a Masters in Business Management and Entrepreneurship,” said Holland.

“I’m delighted to get this far, just a pity not to win.”

Also, the 2016 Ulster U16 Close Championship gets under way on Wednesday with a stroke-play qualifying round at Ardglass GC.

The leading 16 players will make it through to the match-play stages with the semi-finals and final scheduled for Thursday.

The 2015 Championship was won by Jordan (JJ) Logue (Hilton Templepatrick) following a sudden death play off with David Cunningham (Tandragee) and Daniel Reilly (Galgorm Castle).