Leona Maguire: 26-year-old Solheim Cup rookie shocked the golf world

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Before the first kick-off on Friday, she was just a Solheim rookie who wanted to make her mark on the tournament.

By Monday afternoon, she was touted as the next big man in golf.

Maguire played a vital role in Europe’s 15-13 victory over the United States in the Solheim Cup. The Solheim Cup is a biennial golf championship and the best professional female golfer in Europe and the United States. Compete with each other in this game.

In the debut that many people consider to be the pinnacle of the sport, the first Irish woman to participate in the event was both undefeated and the best scorer in Europe, scoring a quarter and a half.

This is Maguire’s dominance on the court, and Captain Pathurst of the United States can only recognize her greatness.

“She is the one we will have to worry about for a long time,” Hirst said.

Hearing similar words from the “Legend” of the Hearst game was a “humbling” experience for Maguire, and she admitted that she has focused on qualifying for the 2023 Spanish Championship.

After returning to Ireland after the Solheim Cup in September, Maguire received a heroic welcome, especially in her hometown of Cavan.

Fans waved Irish flags on both sides of the street, a fire truck with the Irish flag in front led the convoy, and Maguire-from the back of a convertible BMW with a “LEONA” license plate-addressed the people. The expression of her gratitude has come out to cheer and welcome her home.

“It has been a long journey, and without the support of everyone in the local community, I couldn’t have done this,” Maguire said after the exciting journey through his hometown.

After spending some time reflecting on her achievements in Ohio and the welcome she received when she returned, the 26-year-old described all this as “unbelievable.”

“I didn’t expect anything close. We knew we had incredible support at home, cheer for us,” Maguire told CNN Sport. “But seeing that is really special; for me, being involved is a special thing.

“Irish fans are known for being the best fans in the world. I really felt this support as soon as I got home. So many people congratulated me and sent me messages. Many people who never watch golf seem to listen to it. Solheim Cup, look at where I come from and the excitement and buzz about golf and women’s sports around the country, I think it’s really great.

“And I think it’s been a difficult two years for many people. It’s really great for them to see people smile again and look forward to something and enjoy something.”

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During the halftime of the GAA Rugby All-Ireland Senior Championship finals held in Croke Park, Dublin, Maguire, Mayo and Tyrone were introduced to the audience in Croke Park, Dublin.

represent

The green stadium in Ireland is where Maguire discovered her love for the sport, but if things were different, she might become famous in the blue pool.

At about 10 years old, Maguire was asked to choose between focusing on golf or a promising swimming career. She decided not to swim because she knew she would “never become a 6-foot swimmer” and she soon started playing golf.

She and her twin sister Lisa, who is 15 minutes older than her, both devote themselves to the golf course. In fact, in 2005, in the Junior Masters Golf Junior Series held in La Manga, Spain, Leona, who was only 10 years old, fell behind Lisa and won the runner-up.

Just a year later, the Maguire twins were selected to bring the Ryder Cup to the stage at the 2006 Ryder Cup closing ceremony at the Irish K Club, as Europe celebrated an unforgettable victory.

As her golf career flourishes, she has climbed all the way in the women’s amateur golf rankings, reaching the top for a total of 135 weeks, which is the longest stay time in the rankings. 1 in history.

Both she and her sister represented Europe in the two youth Solheim Cups in 2009 and 2011, although the United States won both times.

On September 20, 2011, Maguire and her sister Lisa walked onto the fairway in the 2011 Youth Solheim Cup quadruple match in Trim, Ireland.

However, although many Irish male players represent the Ryder Cup in Europe-such as Sean Lowry this year-Maguire is happy to be the first Irish woman to appear in the Solheim Cup, she said. It was the time she “dreamed of a long time”. “

“I hope this will inspire the younger generation of Irish golfers to yearn for one day to participate in the Solheim Cup or any sport,” she said.

“I think you are the first to do anything at any time, breaking those glass ceilings is a special thing. I may not pay too much attention to this matter now. But when I am 20 or 30 years after my career is over The review is over and it is definitely a highlight.

“Of course, that was one of the best weeks of my life. There is also support from home, I know a lot of people are talking about really wanting to return to the Irish Open, if I play in the Solheim Cup What I did encouraged me to have another little girl playing golf, that would be great.”

Since turning professional in the summer of 2018, Maguire has continued to grow, and a year later won her first two professional championships in the Symetra Tour, the development tour of the Women’s Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Tour.

Her performance in the Grand Slam also set a career best in 2021, tied for sixth at the Evian Championship in July, and entered the top 20 in both the British Women’s Open and the Women’s PGA Championship. .

read: “The greatest all-around player” who helped revolutionize women’s golf
On the last day of the Women's Open at Carnoustie Golf Course, Maguire and her caddie walked down the first hole.

Days worth remembering

As Solheim’s rookie, her debut appeared in a more daunting environment.

Traveling to the United States in front of a domestic audience is always daunting, but due to Covid-19 travel restrictions, fewer European fans can reach Ohio, which means that nearly 100% of fans are from the United States.

However, Maguire admitted that in that situation, her green color might be beneficial to her. “I think it’s like something I have never experienced before,” she said.

“Maybe, I don’t know what’s going to happen is a good thing, I haven’t seen what it’s like to play Solheim Cup in Europe and get all the support. You’re not used to when people cheer.” You missed a putt or missed Fairway. But to be fair, in most cases, the crowd is very respectable. You can say that they are true golf fans. ”

She was in trouble right from the start, and partnered with Mel Reid, a veteran of the previous three Solheim Cups, against the world number one Nellie Koda and hers in the foursome on Saturday morning. Sister Jessica.

The two showed no signs of nervousness, defeated the sisters, gave Europe a perfect start, and calmed the crowd.

In three games on Saturday and Sunday, Maguire partnered with Reid. Even though they “did not really spend any time together or play together” before then, it was a treat for Maguire and her European team as they won two and a half of the possible three-pointers. .

“It just, it feels right, it’s almost immediate. We feel comfortable with each other. I think our games are really complementary. Mel has a lot of experience and she goes to great lengths to make sure “I’m as comfortable as possible on the golf course.” . We are together very well, and I really cannot ask for a better partner for my first Solheim Cup. “

After defeating Kordas in the first game, Maguire and Georgia Hall defeated Yealimi Noh and Brittany Altomare in a four-ball match on Saturday afternoon.

Maguire kicked off from the seventh hole in a foursome match on the second day of the Solheim Cup.

On Sunday, she scored another one and a half points in two classes. But even Maguire was surprised by the number of times she was selected to go out to play.

“A lot of things happened, a lot of things happened that week. Your adrenaline is soaring, you just focus on getting that point, no matter what game you play in, you don’t have time to really think about the game that just ended or the potential game that is coming. .

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“I didn’t expect to play that four-ball match that (Sunday) afternoon. Susanna (Peterson) walked up to me and Mel. I think it was on the 13th hole and said:’You two are about to start again.’ So I kind of had to end that game and mentally prepare to start again.

“So in the end, as a rookie, I never thought I would play five games instead of one million years. It’s an honour, and Bini (Catriona Matthew) trusted me so much and made me in five games. Out of the game, I am accepting one game at a time, knowing that this may be my last game.”

She scored a key point in the singles competition, breaking the rookie points record in the Solheim Cup or Ryder Cup, and ensuring that she returned to Ireland as the “Solheim Cup Champion”.

Not bad for a rookie.


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