Meghan MacLaren’s career has been on an upward curve since graduating from Florida International University 12 months ago. She just punctuated an excellent year by qualifying for the U.S. Women’s Open.
The 23-year-old from Wellingborough, England, was one of four players to earn spots through Sectional Qualifying-Europe at the Buckinghamshire Golf Club near London. She will take her place in the 72nd U.S. Women’s Open at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., on July 13-17.
MacLaren was the only player to break 70 over 36 holes. Her 3-under 69 gave her the first-round lead. However, she added a second-round 76 and had to spend time scoreboard watching to see if she would earn a place in her first major championship.
Scotland’s Carly Booth and Solheim Cup player Caroline Hedwall of Sweden took the top two spots after tying with 1-under-143 totals. That left MacLaren, Scotland’s Kelsey MacDonald and Valdis Thora Jonsdottir of Israel tied for third place at 1 over.
MacLaren and MacDonald earned the two remaining spots with pars at the first extra hole, the par-3 ninth, while Jonsdottir made bogey.
“Everything that you’ve done before comes down to one hole, or one shot,” said MacLaren, daughter of European Senior Tour boss, David MacLaren. “You have to get your mind right and treat it the same as you would any other shot. It’s nice to get it done.
“This is the first time I’ve come to U.S. qualifying, so to suddenly be in the U.S. Women’s Open, I’ve never played in a major before, so it will be amazing to play against the best players in the world and I can’t wait.”
MacLaren won eight times as an FIU player before graduating with a degree in English last year. She played a starring role in the Curtis Cup shortly after graduation. MacLaren earned Great Britain & Ireland’s winning point at Dun Laoghaire Golf Club, south of Dublin, by defeating Bethany Wu, 2 and 1, as GB&I went on to defeat the United States, 11½-8½.
Last year MacLaren won on the Ladies European Tour Access Series as an amateur. She’s notched up another title on the LET’s junior circuit, winning this year’s Azores Ladies Open. She currently lies second on that circuit, and 67th on the LET money list from just one tour start.
MacLaren just missed out on getting a full LET card at least year’s Qualifying School. She finished joint 34th with the top 30 receiving cards. She earned a conditional 2017 card, meaning she’s bouncing between the LET Access Series and trying to get main tour starts.
Unfortunately the U.S. Women’s Open doesn’t count toward the LET money list. However, it seems only a matter of time before MacLarentakes her place on the main tour. Considering her college golf success, she will have a tilt at the LPGA in future too.