Leona Maguire arrived to this week’s HSBC Women’s World Championship as an LPGA Tour winner but she’ll be under no illusions as to the step up in class at Sentosa Golf Club.
Five of the world’s best women golfers will take to The Tanjong course on Thursday and although Maguire has been drawn in a marquee group alongside Major champion Danielle Kang and World number 9 Nasa Hataoka, the LPGA Drive On Champion will be in unchartered territory when she makes her debut at ‘Asia’s Major’.
Now 19th on the Rolex Women’s Rankings after tasting victory on the LPGA for the first time last month, Maguire is expecting an altogether different test over the next two weeks, and has been busy trying to acclimatise to the challenge.
“It’s exciting, I’ve never been to Singapore or Thailand before,” Maguire said with the Honda LPGA Thailand on March 10th teeing off the second event of the swing.
“By all accounts they’re going to be like Tokyo last year, so hot and humid. I’ve been preparing as well as I can at home, trying to simulate the environment with hot baths but it’s always hard to know what to expect heading into the unknown.”
As Maguire mentioned, the Cavan star has experienced the humidity of Asia before at last summer’s Olympics in Japan while she also played all four rounds at the BMW Ladies Championship last October in South Korea.
That trip was still heavily restricted given ongoing pandemic constraints but the 27-year old is hopeful the LPGA bubble has eased somewhat this time around so as well as playing the part of global golf star, she can also play a bit-part role as tourist.
“We played in Korea last year but it was quite a strict bubble so it would be great to be able to explore a bit this time,” Maguire said.
“Singapore seems like such a cool, modern place, and I love Thai food. It’ll be interesting to see the difference between what I think Thai food is and what Thai food actually is!
“We do have to be careful though because we’re tested every day so the last thing you’d want is to test positive and have to quarantine before the first Major of the year at the Chevron.”
Instead, Maguire will attempt to strike the perfect balance between her activities off the course and her work on it, but given the quality of field, you can be sure the bulk of her focus will be on fairway matters.
With 20 Major winners teeing up, boasting a haul of 33 Major titles between them, along with 21 Solheim Cup players who have made a remarkable 51 appearances in total, the $1.7m event represents a deeper field than Maguire dispatched at the Drive On, but that won’t stop Leona’s pursuit of adding more LPGA Tour titles to her trophy cabinet.
“We have one win in the books but my caddie Dermot [Byrne] and I know the season is only getting started,” Maguire said, who tees off on Thursday at 2.40am Irish time.
“Yes, it was incredibly satisfying to win but at the same time, I want to win again, and I want to win as many times as I can.
“That’s why you play, that’s why you practice. You want to be in contention as much as you can. You live for those big moments.”
- Full HSBC Women’s World Championship scoring HERE