Paul McGinley believes the next stepping stone in a career of so many for Leona Maguire will see the 27-year old target Major championship glory this year, with the former Ryder Cup Captain believing Maguire has the perfect man on her bag to help her achieve it.
Maguire became a first-time LPGA Tour winner when making her breakthrough at the Drive On Championship earlier this month in Fort Myers, Florida. Twice a winner on the secondary Symetra Tour, an LPGA Tour title was always the stuff of dreams for the Cavan pro and after making that ambition a reality, McGinley now believes the sky’s the limit for team Maguire and Byrne.
“I think the big change came around this time last year when Dermot Byrne, Shane Lowry’s former caddie, started caddying for Leona. Since then we’ve seen her on a different trajectory,” McGinley told the Sky Sports Golf Podcast.
“Yes, the basis was there. She was starting to hit her stripes on the LPGA Tour and she went on then to have a phenomenal Solheim Cup so no surprise to see her winning a tournament.
“I think the next thing is a Major championship and it’s certainly within her reaches. Every level she’s gone to, she’s stabilised, she’s dominated and she’s moved forward. She plays a very consistent game, there’s no weakness at all and obviously she’s very strong mentally. She’s the full package and she’s enjoying the challenge of what she’s doing.”
Despite espousing her major credentials, McGinley was also hesitant to add too much pressure to the shoulders of Ireland’s latest global star, although the Dubliner admits heightened expectation will be something Maguire will have to bear should she retain ambitions of getting to the very top of the sport.
“There’s a real measured approach here to a professional career,” McGinley continued. “It’s not haphazard.
“A wise man said to me once years ago – ‘the wider the foundation, the greater chance of success’ – and Leona has got a really wide foundation for lots of reasons. Her education, finishing her degree, not just all of a sudden hitting the heights straight away. It’s great to see.
“The one thing I’d be a little bit protective of her on is the expectation on her shoulders now that she’s [won], but if you want to be a great player, you’ve got to deal with that. All the greats have dealt with that expectation. She seems to have circumnavigated every other challenge that’s come her way and I’m sure she’ll deal with this as well.”
For what it’s worth, Maguire has long said that expectation is nothing new to her, and you can be sure the Solheim star’s eyes are firmly fixed on Major titles, whether she verbalises such grand plans or not.
“People have expected things from me for the last fifteen years,” Maguire smiled earlier this year when asked about dealing with expectation.
“There’s really nothing I can do about that. They can expect whatever they want. Ultimately it’s me putting in the time and the effort so the only one who gets to demand anything of me, is me.”