Maguire thrilled to tee-off new season at Tournament of Champions

John Craven

Leona Maguire (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

John Craven

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Leona Maguire admits that there’s a great sense of satisfaction in teeing up for her seasonal reappearance this week on the LPGA Tour at the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions.

The tournament celebrates its fifth anniversary this week, bringing together a field of thirty champions all earning their start with a win on the LPGA Tour in the past two seasons.

Maguire played her way into this season’s curtain-raiser courtesy of her maiden victory on the LPGA Tour last February at the Drive On Championship. It was just her second start of the season. Had she qualified for the Tournament of Champions a month prior, it would’ve been her third.

However, as the stars of the LPGA Tour tuned up for this very tournament 12 months ago, Maguire, an Orlando resident based out of the tournament’s host venue of Lake Nona, could only watch on as she fine-tuned her game for her then season-opener at Boca Rio.

Suffice to say, watching on as the winners of the previous two seasons strutted their stuff in the first event of 2022 whetted Maguire appetite to compete and served as motivation to ensure the Cavan star would take her place amongst the field the following year.

“It’s really nice to kick off the year at Lake Nona,” Maguire told our Irish Golfer podcast. “It’s obviously where I practice in Orlando.

“Last year I was back there when the tournament was going on. It has a bottom and a top range. The tournament was going on up at the top range on the golf course and I was on the bottom range practicing.

“You’re kind of looking up, seeing all the girls chatting, looking at them throughout the week knowing that they’re playing in the tournament and you’re not.

“It was definitely motivating and I wanted to make sure I was part of it the next time. It’s going to be there in 2024 as well so it’s nice knowing that’s now lined up on my schedule for the next couple of years.”

Up to a career-high 11th on the Rolex Women’s Rankings, Maguire has quickly established herself as a leading player on the LPGA Tour. Since spearheading Europe to Solheim Cup success in 2021, Maguire’s trajectory has soared in one direction only with 2022 not just delivering a breakthrough win, but also breaking down Major barriers with top-10 finishes at the Women’s Open and U.S. Women’s Opens providing milestones to savour.

2023 represents another Solheim season, and while the schedule sees a slow burn through Asia for the first few months of the new calendar, things ramp up fast this summer with four Majors in seven weeks, an Irish Women’s Open and that Solheim Cup defence all on the horizon this year.

“There’s a lot to look forward to,” Maguire adds, returning fresh this week following an extended time back home over Christmas.

“It’s all new Major venues this year. I haven’t been to Baltusrol, haven’t been to Pebble Beach. Dermot [Byrne – caddie] has, which is nice!

“They’re venues we’ve grown up watching the lads play. Obviously GMac won at Pebble. They’re going to test all aspects of our game so whoever wins there is going to be playing great golf.

“We’ll obviously try to peak for those weeks. It doesn’t always work out that way.

“But there’s no glaring issues that I’m going to have to work on in order to prepare for them. It’s just a case of fine-tuning and making everything just that little bit better. and hopefully taking our opportunities as and when they come.”

  • Tournament of Champions entry list HERE

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