Leona Maguire will get her major championship season underway today in the Chevron Championship at Mission Hills which will host the event for the 51st and final time meaning the players are entering the last chance saloon in terms of having the opportunity to jump into Poppy’s pond on Sunday evening.
KPMG ambassador Maguire will tee off today alongside Jessica Korda as one of the favourites having climbed to 20th in the Rolex Rankings while also notching her maiden LPGA Tour win last month.
The rise of Seamus Power in the men’s game has been well documented and his major championship debut at next week’s Masters will symbolise how far he has come in a short space of time. Maguire has enjoyed her own ascent in the women’s game and is ranked a whopping 101 places higher in the world rankings than when she teed off in this event twelve months ago.
The Cavan native has become one of the most consistent players in the world and she has managed to maintain that level of performance since her win heading into this week. The course at Mission Hills puts a premium on accuracy from tee to green with the likes of defending champion Patty Tavatanakit, Jin Young Ko, Lexi Thompson and So Yeon Ryu enjoying success here in the past.
Maguire switched to graphite shafts in her irons at the start of the 2021 season culminating in her becoming one of the best iron players on tour ranking 23rd in greens in regulation and she feels that the course sets up well for her this week.
“My game has been building up well for the last few weeks and it was nice to get home for a few days between Thailand and the JTCB last week,” said Maguire. “I got some work done with Shane and feel really ready for this week.
“The course this week does suit my eye, It’s a really tough test and having played it a few times before I feel comfortable on it. The rough is up and there will be a premium on accuracy both off the tee and into the greens. You don’t want to get into this rough too much so I do feel it sets up well to my strengths and I am looking forward to getting started.”
The 27-year-old has long been tipped for stardom and while her talents were well documented Stateside, she announced herself to the world with a record-breaking performance at the Solheim Cup.
Maguire played an instrumental role in helping Catriona Matthew’s side win on US soil for just the second time in Europe’s history as she claimed 4.5 points out of a possible five as a rookie.
From there, her stock rose rapidly and it was a case of when rather than if in terms of sealing her first win which came at the LPGA Drive On Championship. The next step in the journey is undoubtedly a major championship with many casting an eye towards the US Open at Pine Needles but Maguire has a good record here having finished 18th and 28th in her last two starts.
While Irish golf fans might get excited about the prospect of the Ballyconnell woman diving into Poppy’s pond this weekend, she is keeping her feet firmly on the ground for now.
“Yeah that’s the ultimate goal, to win a Major but you have to take it one step at time, one shot at a time and not get ahead of yourself. There is a bit more pressure that comes leading into a Major week , the build-up but you have to try and treat it like any other week and just go about your business and don’t do anything any different.
“I know my game is good enough to win out here so I will just go about my usual week and hope to get into the mix on Sunday.
“They have been showing clips all week of the winner jumping into Poppy’s Pond, there is definitely a technique to it to make sure you don’t get injured but yeah it would be unbelievable to take a jump into that pond on Sunday, that’s the goal.”
Leona will tee off at 16:19 Irish time today alongside Jessica Korda.