Hopes of an Irish Olympic medal faded in the Women’s Individual Stroke Play in Rio, but team captain Paul McGinley immediately praised Leona Maguire and Stephanie Meadow.
Out in two under par alongside world No 1 Lydia Ko, and No 4 Lexi Thompson, world No 1 amateur Maguire was inside the top 15 and cruising comfortably.
But her hopes of a podium finished ended on the back nine when she made five bogeys in her last seven holes in a homeward 41 and carded a three over 74 to slip from 22nd to 24th on level par.
Meadow carded a level par 71 to move up 12 places to tied 26th on one over.
But while they are well off the medal pace with South Korea’s Inbee Park (70) leading by two strokes from Ko (65) and the American Gerina Piller (68) on 11 under par, McGinley was more than happy with the performances of the Irish women.
“Windy afternoon as Stephanie shoots 71 for 29th and Leona 74 for 28th (out of 60) —both players out performing their rankings,” McGinley tweeted in reference to the fact that 21-year old Cavan native Maguire qualified in 49th place and Meadow in only 59th after some late withdrawals.
Slieve Russell and Duke University star Maguire raised hopes that she could contend for a medal after a second round 65 left her inside the top 25.
But she frittered away shots on the way home yesterday, failing to get up and down for pars at the 12th and 13th, before three-putting the 14th from 50 feet and four-putting the driveable 16th from more than 25 yards.
A closing bogey six ended a disappointing day but she will certainly remember it for a long time after watching Ko go out in 29 with four birdies and a hole-in-one at the eighth on her card before adding nine straight pars on the back nine.
Meadow recovered from a bogey on the first with four consecutive birdies from the fourth hole before a double bogey on the eighth halted her run.
Two bogeys and a birdie on the back nine left the Jordanstown women on one over for the tournament.
Leader Park said: “I think I’m going to treat it just like a major championship that I’ve done before. I’m just going to try to treat nothing different.
“Just going to try to treat everything the same and try to do what I’ve just done for the last two days, trying to hit the ball in the fairway and trying to make some putts.”
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