Fate probably had a hand in it, wouldn’t you think?
It was back in 2006 that Leona Maguire and her sister Lisa, as young prodigies, shared a stage with Europe’s Ryder Cup-winning team at The K Club in Straffan, Co Kildare, and the photographs from that golfing spectacular found their way onto the twins’ bedroom wall as some inspiration towards creating their own dreams.
That Leona has been announced as touring professional for The K Club some 16 years on is a powerful indicator of how her career path has developed. She now ranks 19th in the world, with a breakthrough win on the LPGA Tour at the Drive On Championship already this year, a part of her ever-glittering CV that also includes last year’s Solheim Cup heroics .
“God, I’m feeling old,” joked Maguire. “Sixteen years ago! Yeah, that was one of the best weeks of my life that Lisa and me had, memories we are not going to ever forget.
“Actually getting a ticket to the Ryder Cup was a massive deal, and trying to peek through the holes in the crowds and getting to watch, and then the closing ceremony and getting our pictures with Harrington and McGinley and Tiger and Phil. We still had those pictures on our walls for around 10 years after that.
“Look, The K Club is an iconic venue, known all over the world, two courses which are always in great shape, great practice facilities, fantastic hotel . . . I’m lucky to be part of that partnership, and the new owners are doing a lot and have some great ideas about the women’s game. So it is nice to support both the men’s side in Séamus (Power) and the women’s side in me.”
That new attachment appeared on Maguire’s bag for the first time in the last round of the Lotte Championship in Hawaii last week, and will be part of her journey going forward, starting with this week’s DIO Implant LA Open at Wilshire Country Club and remaining on in California for next week’s Palos Verdes Championship.
Maguire struggled to find her best form in Hawaii last week but managed a closing 69 which moved her up to a tied-48th finish. The Co Cavan golfer is hopeful that she can bring that momentum into the LA Open, where she has put a new putter in her bag for the poa annua greens at Wilshire CC.
“I’m just fine-tuning things (this week), working on my wedges, dialling in my irons a little bit better. They’ve gone a little bit off in the last couple of weeks. I’m just fine-tuning those again.
“I’ve a new putter in the bag this week for the poa annua greens. The same putter as I have but a different setup, treated that slightly to hopefully be able to deal with the bumpiness. We haven’t touched my (usual) putter. It looks the exact same, it just plays a little different. Hopefully there won’t be too much of an adjustment, and it might give me a bit more of a chance on the poa annua,” said Maguire, who has adjusted her schedule heading into the summer with any eye to the Majors.
“That will be the first event I’ve skipped so far. The summer is jammed, back to back to back. There’s no obvious choices in the summer when you have as many Majors crammed into a short amount of time as there is, so it is going to be very, very hectic. The breaks are going to have to be a bit more scheduled in the summer, probably based on performance and where we can afford to take those breaks.
“I like Vegas. Shadow Creek is probably one of the best golf courses we play all year, best greens anyway, and I like matchplay, but it is one of those things you have to take into account – the amount of golf that is involved. It is a long walk Shadow Creek, it will be hot. Travelling back over to the west coast, back over to the east coast, there’s a lot of back and forth, so I just want to give the US Open my full attention.”
For now that attention is on this week, the LA Open, and another chance to make her mark.