Leona Maguire makes her eagerly-anticipated return to competition this week as the LPGA Tour and the LET touch down for the Ladies Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club.
The world of women’s golf has been rocked even harder than the men’s since Covid-19 plagued Tour schedules across the globe. Although two LPGA events have played out in America since, the first chink of light at the end of a long tunnel for many Europeans finally arrives this week in Scotland.
For Leona Maguire’s part, she’s been keeping sharp up against the boys amongst the Team Ireland Series, an invaluable 12-person series of events for Team Ireland players back home.
The Cavan star fired an eight-under par two-round total at Mount Juliet to collect first place at the end of June but all the work post-lockdown has been in preparation, not just for this week in Scotland, but the following week’s AIG Women’s Open where she’ll be part of a three-pronged Irish attack with Jordanstown’s Stephanie Meadow and Royal County Down and Tandragee amateur, Olivia Mehaffey also in the field.
It must feel like a lifetime ago since Maguire tied fourth back in February at the ISPS Handa Vic Open but she’ll be hoping to pick up where she left off on more familiar terrain over the next two weeks in Scotland.
Unsurprisingly, back-to-back champion since the restart and the new world number two, Danielle Kang headlines this week’s field.
The latest star in the world of women’s golf scored victories at the LPGA Drive On Championship and the Marathon LPGA Classic but will face plenty of competition with world number 8 Minjee Lee, who comes off two top-four finishes, also in the field.
Past champions Ariya Jutanugarn (2018) and Mi Hyang Lee (2017) have made the trip to The Renaissance Club, as have 2019 major champions Hannah Green (KPMG Women’s PGA Championship) and Hinako Shibuno (AIG Women’s Open).
The 144-player field also includes 15 of the top 20 in the Race to Costa del Sol competing for the $1.5 million purse, as well as Rose Ladies Series Order of Merit winner Charley Hull.
Like all return to competition since Covid-19, the event will be played behind closed doors but for home favourite, Catriona Matthew, just the opportunity for competition after such an extended absence is exciting in itself.
“I must say, just really looking forward to playing in it,” she said.” Obviously it’s going to be different being for the local community this year that none of them can physically come and watch it, but as someone said earlier, hopefully people will be watching on television. I myself, I didn’t realise how much live sport I didn’t watch on TV until there wasn’t any.
“I was struggling to find things to watch. I think people are excited. I’ve been watching some of the men’s golf on television and I think people are just excited and it gives them something to watch on the TV and to have women’s golf, women’s sport up there will be good and I’m really looking forward to these next two weeks.”
This is the first of two consecutive events in Scotland, ahead of next week’s AIG Women’s Open at Royal Troon and represents the final opportunity to qualify for next week’s Major.
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