If the pairings on the opening day of the 2019 Solheim Cup under Catriona Matthew’s captaincy are any indication, then Leona Maguire can expect to make her European team debut on Saturday’s opening of the competition in Toledo, Ohio.
Maguire, 26, is pulling on the European colours for a first time in her pro career among four rookies in Matthew’s team with the Slieve Russell-attached Maguire just a few months older than the ‘baby’ among the rookies, Finland’s Matilda Castren.
Matthew has led her side to the Buckeye State looking to become only the second European team to successfully defend the cup on US soil in this year’s 17th edition of the biennial competition. Matthew had three rookies in her 2019 European Team at Gleneagles and with the trio each teeing-up on day one including England’s Bronte Law who played both in the morning and afternoon.
And Matthew was asked ahead of this week’s much-anticipated showdown if she expected Maguire to compete on day one of the competition at the famed Inverness club.
“Leona’s got a tremendous record in amateur golf, amateur match play in Curtis Cup and things and has been playing well the last year and a half,” said Matthew.
“I think we have a tricky problem this year in that so many of our players are playing well, but she will certainly be featuring there in some of the games.”
And in being asked about Maguire’s value to her team, the now 52-year-old Scottish-born Matthew was asked to share memories of her own Solheim Cup debut in 1998 at Muirfield Village, also in Ohio.
“I was very much a rookie in 1998 and I remember I was in the first foursomes, fortunate enough to get a pretty good partner in Annika,” she said.
“I remember, I don’t know whether it was good or bad, but I was playing the odd holes, so I had the first tee shot being the away team. So, yeah, I think you walk on to that tee and yeah, I think it is the most nervous you are.
“When you’re playing and you’re playing your best, that’s what you’ve worked for your whole career for these moments. So, you’re obviously nervous on the first tee, but you quickly get over it and settle into the match.
“The event has grown hugely since then back in ’98. The first tee here looks amazing and I’m sure the rookies, not even the rookies, all the players, are going to be, you walk down on, as you come down through the stands here on to the first tee, it’s going to be, you know, it’s a real mixture of emotions. You’re nervous. You’re excited. So, I mean, it’s just getting off that first tee and then they will get going.”