• MacLaren back in her happy place hoping for historic hat-trick

It would be hard to argue there is any player happier about the Ladies European Tour’s (LET) return to Australia than Meghan MacLaren.

The Englishwoman arrives following some indifferent early 2024 form, however, as a two-time winner (2018 & 2019) of the Women’s NSW Open things look bright for the three-time winner in Australia.

“It’s fun. It’s one of those places that I’ve got so many good memories here that it is kind of the one I mark out at the start of the year,” MacLaren said.

“Obviously we didn’t get to come last year, so it’s nice to be back.”

Coming back means MacLaren can resume her historic chase to become the first ever three-time winner of the Jan Stephenson Trophy after her victories at Coffs Harbour and Queanbeyan saw her arrive at Dubbo Golf Club in 2020 with plenty of attention.

Won twice by Sarah Oh and Caroline Hedwall, as well as 29-year-old MacLaren, the 2022 Australian Women’s Classic Bonville champion would love to complete the treble, despite not being aware of this week’s shot at history.

“I didn’t actually know that,” she said of her potential historic hat-trick.

“I know when I won the first two and we played the third time there was quite a lot of talk about there wasn’t many instances of somebody winning an event three times in a row.

“It was like Annika and a couple of other very, very big names, but just having a chance to put your name alongside that is really special. Regardless of where I am in my career, or what’s happened, you can’t ignore how cool a thing that would be.”

Where MacLaren is currently with her golf is still fine tuning a new swing having changed coaches and believing she was starting the year in a good place.

A tie for 36th in Kenya followed by three missed cuts has not deterred her though, with her fondness and familiarity for Australian golf the perfect tonic for some so-so results.

“I have done a lot of work on my swing, but I felt like it was in a pretty good place starting the year, but that’s not quite how it has panned out,” she said.

“There’s always something in golf, I feel like I’ve got a handle on it now, so it is just kind of working through it and get back to where I know I can be.”

Another element that could prove helpful for returning to the winner’s circle is new host venue Magenta Shores Golf & Country Club.

Located on the edge of the Pacific Ocean on the New South Wales Central Coast, Ross Watson’s layout is more often than not windswept. Something MacLaren believes could allow for her game to shine.

“It’s one of the cool things about this event, is that it moves all over New South Wales. This place is stunning. I am looking forward to it,” she said of the course.

“I think anytime it is windy, it shows how much trust you’ve got in your game. I think the better a golfer you are, the more you enjoy conditions like that, because there is nowhere to hide.”

MacLaren of course is just one of 26 LET winners in the field this week, with players seeking to emulate her success Down Under and many having heard the positive reports of golf and off course elements when playing the co-sanctioned WPGA Tour of Australasia events.

“You only have to look at the players who are here to know that people want to come to Australia,” MacLaren said.

“People who haven’t been want to be here, people who have been before want to be here, so it is just somewhere that everyone enjoys being I think.”

MacLaren’s personal enjoyment potentially at an all-time high if she writes her name into the history books this week at Magenta Shores.

The second and third rounds will be shown LIVE on 7plus from 12:30pm AEDT.

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