Leona Maguire's closing round 68, which began with a pair of bogeys, came up agonisingly one shot short of the play-off at the KPMG Irish Women’s Open at Dromoland Castle where a crowd of 10,000 streamed through the gates on a final day of high drama.

27-year-old Klara Spilkova of the Czech Republic produced arguably the most dramatic moment of all as she took off her shoes and socks and stepped into the edge of a pond on the 17th hole, before chipping to four feet and saving par which would prove crucial to her eventual success.

She would go on to birdie the 18th hole both in regulation and in the play-off to win just her second Ladies European Title in her 12th season as a professional.


That play-off also involved Nicole Broch Estrup of Denmark and also 42-year-old veteran Ursula Wikstrom of Finland who was playing in her 299th LET event in what remains a winless career.

Both could only make par on the sudden-death tie hole where Spilkova almost holed her eagle chip from the back of the green, leaving herself a four-foot uphill putt for birdie and victory which she duly holed dead centre.

That trio had finished on 14 under par; a total that Maguire missed by a single stroke after a final round which started with a three-putt on the first green and then a tee shot into trees on the second, both resulting in dropped shots.

Having started the final round two shots off the lead, the Cavan woman then went to the third tee outside the top ten and four behind and on a day of near perfect scoring conditions.

The march back into contention began with a birdie from 8 feet on the par three 7th and then when she holed from 16 feet from the edge of the green on the 10th , she began to find the same kind of inspiration which had led to her back nine charge in a round of 65 on Saturday.

Birdies on the 13th and 14th holes from inside 8 feet took her into the top ten but a miss from 7 feet on the short par four 15th would prove costly in the end.

Still, she managed to pick up shots on the par five 16th and 18th holes for a round of 68 but that would only take her to 13 under, one shot shy of the play-off.

"Over Saturday and Sunday I couldn't have given it any more than I did," she told RTÉ Sport afterwards.

"Friday is the disappointing round in there but I gave it all I could, and I can't ask for much more than that.

"The crowd support was phenomenal and they were cheering me on whether it was birdies, pars or bogeys. I wanted to play as good as I could to give them something to cheer about.

"The front nine hasn't been good to me this week, I've got off to a slow start every day. If I only had to play the back nine this week I'd have been laughing.

"It doesn't take much out there for it to go one way or the other. It would have been nice to get off to a better start today, but I stayed patient, hung in there and I'm proud that I finished strong."

Spectator numbers of around 24,000 attended the tournament over the four days - very large by Ladies European Tour standards and comparable to the size of crowds which attended the AIG Women's Open at Muirfield in Scotland last month.

"A lot of Irish fans came over to watch, which I really appreciated," champion Spilkova said afterwards.

"I've been on the tour for 12 years so I knew I could make it and win another one. I've been playing really well recently, and I've been up there every week.

"I just had to trust in it."

Of her save on the 17th she added, "that was definitely the best up and down of my whole life. I'm just really happy that it came off that way, and ended up a metre from the hole."

It's almost a certainty that the Irish Women's Open event will return to Dromoland Castle again next year, with the likelihood of a date in the calendar in either July or August.