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Walton Heath 2023

Magnanimous Maguire


Leona leads Irish hopes at AIG Women's Open

Leona Maguire speaks to the press

Leona Maguire understands the impact it could have in Ireland if she was to become her country’s first women’s major winner.

The Cavan native has been making waves on the LPGA Tour and has climbed to 13th in the world rankings after a series of impressive performances.

Maguire won the Drive On Championship in February last year and the Meijer LPGA Classic in June and comes into this week’s AIG Women’s Open with a realistic chance of landing a historic major for her country – although she diverted attention away from herself when the subject was raised during her press conference at Walton Heath on Wednesday.

She said: “You try not to think about things like that [making history].

“Obviously it's great to see some more Irish girls coming up through the ranks. Aine Donegan at Pebble a few weeks ago, and Anna [Foster] here as well, there's more and more girls coming through the ranks which is really nice to see.

“And even with everything going on with the Women's World Cup right now. There was a huge buzz at home for our women's team.

“And I think that visibility is huge, to see someone that comes from where you come from, to see them on TV achieving on a world stage is massive in terms of growing the game. Even today, there's a lot of little kids out here which is really nice to see, young girls sort of watching and checking golf balls and signing autographs and all that.

“Any time you see anybody doing well that sort of you can relate to, it only helps inspire the next generation.”

Maguire gave herself a chance of landing a maiden major title when she led the field going into the final round of the Women's PGA Championship earlier this year, and she now realises the importance of managing her emotions if similar situations arise in the future.

She said: “I was playing really nice golf. I think the wind the week before took a lot out of me. I was quite drained come Sunday and just didn't have enough in the tank to get over the line.

“Knowing I could put myself in contention, it was obviously a new learning experience, to be in that situation in the lead [in the] last group [on] Saturday and the lead [in the] last group [on] Sunday and sort of the emotions and everything that went along with that.

“I'd like to think that if I get myself in that position again, I'll approach it a little differently and I'll have learned from that experience.”

Maguire believes patience and adaptability will be vital throughout the Championship. She realises the large greens will put an emphasis on putting, and she's well aware that staying out of the bunkers and the heather will be crucial for success.

Leona Maguire (right) during a practice round at Walton Heath

Maguire's assessment of Walton Heath highlights the differences from previous AIG Women’s Open tracks. She notes the course's soft conditions and the prominence of trees, which will necessitate the use of hybrids and woods on many holes.

She said: "I played the back nine this morning, and apart from the par-5s, I think I hit one iron into the green.”

Maguire's humble approach as to her status in the golfing landscape in Ireland is noteworthy.

She acknowledged the support she's received from the media at home and from male Irish major winners such as Padraig Harrington and Shane Lowry. Their advice and camaraderie have been instrumental in her journey, she said.

And she is just four good rounds away from adding her name to a stellar list of Irish sporting heroes.