Rory McIlroy was full of praise for the selection of Leona Maguire as the first Irish woman to compete in a Solheim Cup. Maguire, 26, was handed a ‘wildcard’ pick for the 18th hosting of the event starting on Friday, 3rd September on the famed Inverness club course in Toledo, Ohio.
While McIlroy will be making his sixth European Ryder Cup appearance later next month at Whistling Straits, Maguire’s selection is a historic first with the Slieve Russell golfer among four rookies in Catriona Matthew European team. McIlroy was asked his reaction to Maguire’s appointment by Irish Golfer Magazine on a Zoom conference call ahead of this week’s BMW Championship in Baltimore.
“I saw the news yesterday that Leona is on the Solheim Cup team and I think it’s wonderful,” he said.
“I got to spend a little bit of time with her in Tokyo. I think, as well, like from back home, Leona is — both the girls but especially Leona was sort of earmarked for success for a long time, sort of child prodigy coming up.
“Leona sort of went through all the ranks, Curtis Cup and now into the Solheim Cup, and she’s been putting some really good scores together, obviously shooting that great round the last day at the Evian Masters.
“So yeah, she’s been playing well. I think her selection is well deserved, and it’s just another stepping-stone in the right direction for her. It’s a great achievement, and yeah, I certainly don’t think this is — I think she’s just getting started.”
And August 31st will mark the first birthday of McIlroy’s daughter, Poppy, born last year on the Monday of the Tour Championship in Atlanta.
“My life has changed a lot since Poppy was born,” he said.
“I now want to spend a lot more time at home. I wanted to get home even in between these two events, so I flew down from New York Monday night so I could get a night in my own bed Monday, spend a few hours with her yesterday, a few hours with her and Erica, and then I flew up here yesterday afternoon.
“Yeah, any chance I get to get home, especially at this point in the season when we’ve been away so much, I’m going to take it.
“You have to manage your time a little better and you have to be a little more efficient with what you do. I think obviously it’s a big adjustment for anyone, but it’s been great. It’s the most fulfilling thing I think you’ll ever do in your life, and nothing can replace that feeling.”
Poppy made one of her appearances at a PGA Tour event on a winning note when she travelled in the first week of May to the Wells Fargo Championship, with mam, Erica and daughter on hand to see McIlroy capture a third victory at Quail Hollow, a 19th PGA Tour and a 28th pro career success.