Leona Maguire has heaped praise on new European Solheim Cup Captain Suzann Pettersen, believing the experienced Norwegian has the ideal characteristics to lead the side in Spain in two years’ time.
Pettersen will take charge of Europe on the week of September 18-24, 2023. The two-time Major champion is synonymous with the Solheim Cup having represented Europe nine times as a player and twice as a vice-captain. She has been part of five triumphs, including the past two victories at Gleneagles in Scotland and at Inverness Club in Ohio.
Maguire was a standout performer in Toledo where she put in a record rookie showing, banking 4.5 of a possible 5 points to help Catriona Matthew’s side to victory. The Cavan star would’ve dearly loved to share the fairways in European blue as teammates with Pettersen on that famous week but having done so as a pre-teen all the way back at the Ladies Irish Open in 2010/11, Maguire has been able to get a sense, not only of the fierce competitor Pettersen is, but also the mark of the woman.
“Suzann was a big hero of mine growing up,” Maguire said a Davy media day.
“Her passion for the game, her competitiveness. Me and Lisa played a practice round with her in Killeen one evening in 2010. I remember being quite intimidated by her going out – very nervous – but she couldn’t have been nicer.
“I got to play the first two rounds with her in 2011 when she won. It was an incredible experience seeing her up close, then getting to watch what she did in the Solheim Cup at Knightsbrook.
“It was a dream of mine to play on a Solheim Cup team with her. Didn’t quite get there but obviously she was a Vice Captain in Toledo. I picked her brains that week – she was always checking in.
“And even, that’s ten years ago from when we played at Killeen, and she was asking about Lisa, asking about Shane [O’Grady – coach] who walked around with us that day. It was nice that she remembered. It meant a lot to me at the time but it also meant a lot that she remembered way back when considering the amount of people she has played with and met over the years.”
On the subject of remembering, Maguire won’t be forgetting her Solheim Cup debut, nor will anyone who watched it. A week that she describes as the “highlight of my career so far”, Maguire echoed Ryder Cup rookie Shane Lowry’s sentiments that it was an occasion that took a lot out of her during a frantic spell of golf.
“I think you run on adrenaline for the week,” she says. “There’s so much going on that you don’t really have time to think about how tired you are but it definitely did take a lot out of me.
“It was a roller coaster few weeks. It did take a lot out of me, but it was in the middle of a very busy stretch. We had two majors and the Olympics as well in the space of two months.”
Thankfully, when she arrives home for Christmas, Maguire can finally put the feet up, not least to enjoy Granny Kathleen’s famous festive desserts.
“Granny makes Christmas cakes and Christmas puddings for every one of Dad’s family,” Maguire smiled.
“She starts them in September so she’s well on her way at this stage! She’s 95 years old, it’s her birthday on New Year’s Day as well so I’m sure we’ll have a bit of a party for that, all going well.”