A delighted Padraig Harrington insists Leona Maguire’s historic Solheim Cup selection will be a huge inspiration to young women golfers across the length and breadth of Ireland.
Maguire, 26, becomes the first Irish-born player to represent Europe in the September 4th start to Europe’s defence of the 18th hosting of the Solheim Cup at the Inverness club in Toledo, Ohio. Joining the Slieve Russell star as rookies in Catriona Matthew’s side is Finland’s Matilda Castren, Nanna Koerstz Madsen of Denmark and Germany’s Sophia Popov.
The least Monday Monday of the year! 14year old me had a big dream and it’s been quite the journey since that ‘09 JR Solheim cup but today we made history!! So excited to represent @SolheimCupEuro ?????????? #cantseecantbe pic.twitter.com/2AZiZnB4Ab
— Leona Maguire (@leona_maguire) August 23, 2021
Castren has also created European Solheim Cup history being the first from Finland to earn a call-up with 196 players, spread out over 14 European nations, now selected in the 31-year history of the competition against the golfing might of the U.S.
Europe’s Ryder Cup captain had just completed his Czech Masters campaign when he learnt news of Maguire’s impending selection.
“It’s a tremendous achievement personally for Leona as I know she will be thrilled and excited while her selection is a big deal for women’s golf in Ireland,” said Harrington.
“We’ve had such a great history of Irish players being picked for the Ryder Cup, and now with Leona being selected, it’s going to be great for young Irish girls playing golf to strive to follow in her footsteps.
“I know myself growing-up that watching all the Ryder Cup players was an inspiration for me and something that I could go on and do, so now with Leona being selected, she’ll be an inspiration to so many young Irish girls knowing they too can do what Leona has achieved.
“It’s just amazing not now that Leona will be leading all those who may follow behind her but, as I said, it’s a tremendous personal achievement as she’s lived-up to the reputation, the pressure and the stress.
“She’s been playing great golf for a long time now and it’s just great to see her getting rewarded for all her hard work with the first of hopefully many more Solheim Cup appearances.”
And Harrington revealed with Irish women golfers doing so well, including the likes Stephanie Meadow and Lauren Walsh, who tees-up in this week’s Curtis Cup that he’s found himself tuning-in and also clicking on women’s golfing websites just to see how the Irish girls are performing.
“With the way the Irish girls have been playing so well in recent years, I don’t think I have ever never tuned in more to watching them compete or going to the various websites to see how they are scoring,” said Harrington.
“That is amazing because when you talk about women’s sport, it’s all about watching someone you know but then I am now finding myself tuning in every day while I am looking at the women’s scores on the main tours.
“It is something that I have not done before but now I find myself following them, and that goes to show how you get the followers and the likes of Leona is now inspiring the next generation of Ireland’s golfers.
“So, congratulations to Leona, as her pick is well-deserved, and wishing Catriona and the European team a great week in Ohio and success in bringing the Solheim Cup back home to Europe.”
Maguire revealed she had known for six days of her selection when informed by Matthew last Monday in playing a Carnoustie practice round with the Scottish-born captain ahead of official confirmation to the media late on Sunday night following Maguire’s T13th finish in the AIG Women’s Open.
“Catriona told me on Monday I was in the team but I was sworn to secrecy,” Maguire laughed.
“It was nice, I appreciated it. Not that I would’ve – I mean it’s a Major so you’re trying to finish as high as you possibly can anyway – but all year I’ve tried not to think about it too much and let the results look after themselves and the plan was executed nicely!
“It was a big goal this year but I tried not to think about it too much but it is a big deal. So, to be the first Irish woman is another milestone, another glass ceiling shattered. No Irish woman has ever done it before. I’m the first – hopefully I won’t be the last – but yeah, it’s going to be a really special week.”
EUROPEAN SOLHEIM CUP TEAMS – BY COUNTRY (1990 to 2021)
- Sweden – 60 players
- England – 51
- Scotland – 21
- France – 16
- Spain – 14
- Germany – 10
- Norway – 8
- Denmark – 8
- Wales – 2
- Italy – 2
- Belgium – 1
- Netherlands – 1
- Ireland – 1
- Finland – 1
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