Leona Maguire is looking forward to her second bite at a Major championship as a professional when she tees up later today at the KPMG Women’s PGA at Hazeltine.
A KPMG ambassador, Maguire accepted a special exemption to compete in the event back in April and after a quiet return to Symetra Action last week at the Forsyth Classic, the Cavan professional is feeling good after a brief stint back home.
“I had a week off at home to rest after a rather busy start to the year,” said Maguire. “I got off to a bit of a slow start at the Forysth Classic but I still recovered to make the cut so it was nice to get an extra round under my belt. My game feels good and I am looking forward to the next run of events.”
Although the next run of events come thick and fast, Maguire’s refusing to look past this week in Minnesota admitting that it’s opportunities like this that make her thankful for the support of KPMG.
“I’m so proud to represent KPMG and they really are a fantastic company to work with,” added Maguire. “I’m honoured they offered me the chance to play.
“They are superb in everything they do and I’m very lucky to have the support. They are like a family and are in constant contact with me looking to help in any way they can.”
Maguire has taken to the pro ranks seamlessly grabbing five straight top-five finishes before last week including two wins. However, her one foray into LPGA Tour company didn’t end so well when Maguire fell five shots short of the cut mark at last month’s US Women’s Open. That experience, although disappointing, has only whetted the appetite for more opportunities to test herself against the best.
“I’ve played in Majors before as an amateur so I feel comfortable playing in this environment. It’s what you work so hard for, to test your game against the best,” said Maguire.
“Hazeltine is such an iconic venue and one I can’t wait to play this week. I played nine holes on Monday and the course is in great condition. It’s tough but it rewards great shots. Staying out of the rough is the key! I’m excited for the week.”
Maguire will be joined by Jordanstown’s Stephanie Meadow who’s endured a frustrating string of nearly-weeks on the LPGA Tour. The Northern Irishwoman’s game has been just that bit out having shot four consecutive rounds of 72 at her last two events to narrowly miss out on the weekend action.
Like Maguire, Meadow also struggled at the US Women’s Open in South Carolina but with her game trending close, one weekend appearance and just one week in golf could make all the difference.
Where better to start then than Hazeltine National, a venue synonymous with the game of golf having hosted two PGA Championships and a Ryder Cup as well as twice hosting both the US Women’s Open and the US Open. It’s been five years since the Tour abandoned the name “LPGA Championship,” which since 1955 was the tour’s flagship event to replace it with the rebranded KPMG Women’s PGA.
In venues alone, the event has moved the LPGA to fancier post codes. Before Hazeltine, the championship was at Westchester Country Club, Sahalee, Olympia Fields and Kemper Lakes – all important stops for men’s events. Coming up are Aronimink, Congressional, Baltusrol and PGA Frisco – an impressive line-up impossible without the coalition with KPMG.
“It’s really a unique collaboration between the LPGA, KPMG and the PGA of America to really elevate women on and off the golf course, to get them on network television, to showcase the best female athletes in the world in a way we feel they’re deserving of,” says Suzy Whaley, the first female President of the PGA of America.
“We’re happy to be in our fifth year,” Whaley says. “We’re constantly striving to push the envelope and do more.”
Irish tee-times (Irish Time)
15:46 – Nasa Hataoka, Leona Maguire, Angel Yin
20:38 – Stephanie Meadow, Megan Khang, Mi Jung Jur