Leona Maguire admits she never would’ve dreamed of competing alongside the best male golfers in the game, let alone in front of packed galleries on home soil in Ireland.
With 40,000 spectators expected through the gates of Adare Manor for the JP McManus Pro-Am this week, Maguire found herself sandwiched in a group between Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy on the opening day in Limerick.
And sure enough the Cavan star drew a huge amount of attention, and more eyeballs than she’d ever experience on a normal week on the LPGA Tour.
“Never in a million years would I have dreamed to be at something like this,” Maguire said before opening with an even par 72.
“These are the lads I grew up watching on telly, and all the crowds and everything; very fortunate that JP has me here this week, and yeah, I’m enjoying it as much as I can.
“There’s supposed to be 35,000, 40,000 thousand people in the gates. We don’t normally get that in LPGA events. So to get that at home is really special.”
Maguire’s homecoming is quite the celebration off the back of becoming the first Irishwoman to win on the LPGA Tour. The Solheim Cup star very nearly followed up her victory at the LPGA Drive On Championship in February with another title at last month’s Meijer Classic where she fell just short in a playoff to Jennifer Kupcho.
There have been missed cuts in the mixed too – four in total this term on poa annua grass – but while Maguire will never be fully satisfied with her golf while she strives for consistency, she’s content with how this season has turned out so far.
“Yeah, I mean, ultimately, you’d like to be up near the top of the leaderboard every week but that’s golf,” she said.
“The only cut I’ve missed have been on poa annua grass, so haven’t quite got the hang of that yet. I’ve won once and lost in a playoff once. I’d have taken that at the start of the year, top-10 in the U.S. Open.
“I know how to contend so it’s just a case of trying to do that more and more throughout the year.
“I think [I’ll give] special attention to the majors in the next few weeks, Evian and British Open coming up. So they are sort of where the focus is right now.”
On Monday, Maguire’s focus may well have been on the movements of the group in front as Tiger Woods made his return to the fairways ahead of his 150th Open appearance at St. Andrews next week.
“I shouldn’t hit into him, there won’t be any fear of that,” Maguire laughed before teeing up behind the one they call GOAT.
“I saw Tiger at The Ryder Cup in 2006 and got my picture taken. We’ll see if we can replicate that this week!”
As you can see from the picture, Leona surely did!
- Full Pro-Am scoring HERE
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