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Maguires to take plunge into Professional ranks

​​​Lisa and Leona Maguire will make their Professional debut at the ShopRite LPGA Classic Presented by Acer that will be held June 8-10​

  • 31 May 2018

​Caption: Lisa and Leona Maguire at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio (Credit: Tristan Jones – IGF).

It was at Tramore Golf Club in 2004 that Leona and Lisa Maguire made their first appearance in an ILGU event. That week, at the then Midland Girls Championship, both left playing off a handicap of 19 and with a first and third nett prize voucher in their back pocket. It wasn’t long before word spread of the talented 10-year-olds who turned heads in their matching outfits and let their PING moxie junior set of clubs do the talking. 

By 2007, Lisa had won the Midland, Ulster and Leinster Girls’ Championships, the Ulster U19 Schools Championship, the Girls Inter-provincial Matches and both the Ulster and Irish Girls Order of Merit. She was also a semi-finalist in the Irish Women’s Close and the British Girls’ Championship that year. 

Meanwhile, Leona became the youngest ever winner of the Hermitage Scratch Cup at the age of 14, she also won the Scottish U16 Open, Connacht Girls’ Championship, Ulster U19 Schools, the Girls’ Inter-Provincial Matches and was runner-up (to Lisa) in both the Mid and East Leinster Girls’ Championships. 

ILGU High Performance Manager David Kearney remembers the girls first Home International Cap for Ireland at Southerndown in Wales at the age of 12; 

“I helped the girls’ dad to drop back their bags to the room. We get to the room and the girls are in bed reading and Declan says it’s ok to come in and drop the bags. The two girls were sitting up in bed reading – I asked what book it was; “Harry Potter,” said Leona. “Yeah, and I’m 10 pages ahead!” said Lisa with a wry smile. But that’s the girls. Competitive to the last.”

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A young Leona and Lisa Maguire before the Irish Close Final at Westport (Credit: Pat Cashman Photography)

Career highlights:
At home in Ireland the pair share three Irish Women’s Close Championship titles, one Irish Girls’ Close Championship title, two Irish Women’s Open titles and one U18 equivalent. Leona’s Curtis Cup record boasts 6 wins, 6 losses and 2 halves across 3 matches while Lisa, who played at one Curtis Cup match, has 2 wins and 1 loss to her name. 

Arguably, the biggest highlight of their 14 year amateur career goes to Leona, who in 2017 became the British Women’s Open Amateur Champion at Pyle and Kenfig. That win secured her a place in the RICOH Women’s British Open, one of five Major Championships she has competed in, and extended her lead at the summit of the World Amateur Golf Rankings (WWAGR).

Indeed, earlier this year when the weekly WAGR updates were published, Maguire was ranked number one for the 131st time in her career, breaking the previous record held by New Zealander Lydia Ko. This is a record unlikely to be beaten as players are spending less and less time in the amateur ranks, opting for the paid route as soon as possible. There was no desire to rush into such a decision for Leona however, as although she had the chance to turn on a number of occasions, including after she won college player of the year in her first year at Duke University, she turned it down each time, electing instead to finish her degree at Duke.

College Golf has been well suited to the Cavan pair. Most recently they, along with their teammates, claimed their 11th college win together at the ACC’s while Leona individually secured her 10th title for Duke. It was a bitter sweet end at the NCAA Division 1 National Championships as the North Carolina team bowed out in the Quarter-Finals. There is a silver lining however as Leona was selected as CoSIDA Academic All-District III for the second straight year having collected the second-lowest scoring average, 70.62, in Duke single season history. 

In a sport which takes so much time and work to succeed, you would forgive the girls if they had let their grades slip, but not only are the Maguire’s a talent on the course, they have also excelled academically. Having obtained just the 595 and 615 points in their leaving cert in 2014, the pair graduated from Duke in May of 2018, both doing so with a 3.9 grade-point average while obtaining their degree in psychology, marketing and management. 

What’s next?
While Leona has secured a card for the second tier LPGA Symetra Tour, Lisa will also turn professional with invites expected for both over the coming months. 

“It’s an exciting time for both of us,” said Lisa. “We are looking forward to the challenge ahead and are ready for a new journey and new opportunities.”

In what seems to have been a long wait since those two 10-year olds turned up at Tramore Golf Club, the girls now have the opportunity to make their mark on a world stage and in doing so represent Irish Women’s Golf and the ILGU.

“I’ve had some great times with Lisa and Leona, from visiting them at home in Cavan to heading over to Duke and at multiple tournaments under the Irish flag,” explains HP Manager David Kearney. “They always worked so hard, were good fun and have definitely been a major contributing factor in the elevation of both the profile and performance of Irish ladies Golf – they won’t need it, but I wish them the very best of luck in the future!”

The pair announced that they will make their professional debut at the ShopRite LPGA Classic Presented by Acer that will be held June 8-10 at the Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club Bay Course in Galloway, N.J.