Leona Maguire and Mel Reid resume their prolific Solheim Cup partnership this week while Stephanie Meadow returns to the site of her best LPGA Tour finish since 2020 as she links up with veteran Cristie Kerr once again for the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational.
Maguire and Reid excelled as a pairing in last year’s Solheim Cup triumph on American soil as they combined to win 2.5 points out of a possible three while Meadow and Kerr produced a strong showing in last year’s Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational, finishing in a share of sixth place.
The team event shows players join with a teammate of their choosing, in which they compete in a 72-hole tournament that features both foursomes and a four-ball competition.
Maguire and Reid certainly developed a reputation as a fire and ice combination, Reid the leader and motivator in the team room while Maguire proved herself to have ice running through her veins as she produced a ruthless performance in a historic rookie performance in Ohio.
Dubbing themselves as ‘Team Bestie’ Reid was unsure whether her love for the Cavan native was mutual as she awaited a reply about playing together this week.
“Obviously like we did so well at Solheim and she’s somebody I really enjoy playing with, and obviously she’s a great player, so I was the one that initiated it. I was the one that started the relationship,” said Reid.
“Yeah, I put my heart out there first, and she took about a week to reply. And I was like, cool, just blank me for a bit, and then finally just said yes. I’m excited for the week. Obviously Leona is playing great. It’s a fun week anyway. It’s a really good tournament.”
Maguire eventually replied and she is looking forward to making her debut in this event as she begins her preparations for the final two major championships of the season.
“Yeah, we obviously had a great week at Solheim last year, so, yeah, make it an annual affair. I suppose that’s probably enough. Yeah, we’ll have a few good days regardless.
“Yeah, I mean, I’ve never played team stroke play before, so it’s all new for me. I guess Mel is the veteran here, so she’s going to have to take the lead a little bit on that one.
“But ultimately we’re just playing our own games, trying to play as well as we possibly can, not put too much pressure on ourselves, and yeah, just have a fun week.
“Yeah, we’ll both have some fun, hit some good shots hopefully, and lots of laughs out there this week.”
The Solheim Cup proved to be the sliding doors moment for Maguire as she announced herself as a world class player and she has continued that form into the 2022 campaign. The 27-year-old captured her first LPGA Tour win at the LPGA Drive On Championship at Crown Colony in February, earned a tie for eighth at the U.S. Women’s Open and notched a runner-up finish at the Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give, an event she lost in a playoff to Jennifer Kupcho.
The Ballyconnell woman has also been spending some quality time with a certain Tiger Woods over the last week or so when she teed it up at the JP McManus Pro-Am in Adare Manor, but not even the legendary 15-time major winner could replace Mel as her bestie!
“Yeah, it was a really cool week, one of those once-in-a-lifetime-things. Poor Mel. I mean, I did meet Tiger last week, so it’s a little bit of a step down. She’s lucky I’m here. No, got some good tips off Tiger, so we’ll bring it into this week.
“It was a special few days. I think there was 35,000, 40,000 people a day. The crowds were insane to have people sort of shouting your name and little kids wanting pictures and autographs.
“Yeah, it was incredible. The atmosphere was like a Solheim Cup, like a Ryder Cup, and I think the lads are going to be very lucky to be there in a few years’ time. You never know. Maybe a Solheim in a few years, too.”
It could prove to be an exciting week from an Irish point of view with Meadow seemingly kickstarting her LPGA Tour career this season. Having secured her full playing rights at the eleventh hour for the second time in three seasons, the Jordanstown native has gone up a level this season with the switch to coach Todd McKittrick giving her a level of consistency she has never had.
The 30-year-old has achieved two top-10 finishes and a top-20 this term including a 10th place at the Women’s KPMG PGA Championship where had it not been for a stumbling finish in two of her rounds she could have found herself seriously in contention at Congressional.
Meadow finds herself 60th in the Race to CME Globe Ranking and is certainly looking up rather than over her shoulder at the 100th place mark which is where she finished to keep her card last season.