Maguire finishes strong for 72: ‘The most nervous I’ve ever been in my life’

Ronan MacNamara

Alex Maguire (Photo by Richard Martin-Roberts Getty Images)

Rónán MacNamara in Hoylake

From a mere spectator, camping near St Andrews twelve months ago to living life inside the ropes at the 151st Open Championship.

Alex Maguire showed courage and fight to birdie two of his last four holes to post an opening round of one-over 72 on his major championship debut at Royal Liverpool.


After a smooth front nine of one bogey and one birdie the Laytown & Bettystown amateur was hit with a culture shock of a bogey on 10 and a double-bogey six on the tough par-4 14th. However, after a brief word with himself he regained his composure to birdie the par-5s 15 and 18 to move from plus three to plus one.

“I’m delighted to birdie those two holes coming in, I didn’t birdie the par-5 5th, I hit a really bad second shot so I knew you have to be under par on the par fives here,” said the St Andrews Links Trophy champion.

“I just made a mental mistake on 14 and I pulled out driver after a few good drivers on a hole where you can’t hit driver. Hit it into a bunker and then had one bad swing from there and that’s costly, because I felt like I was playing great the whole way around.

“I had a little talk after the bogey on 14 I went off on my own, didn’t speak to my caddie for a few minutes just to psych myself back up and get into the zone. I hit a really good drive on 15 it suits my eye very well and to birdie that and get up and down on the last from no-mans land to two feet was probably the best pitch of my life.

“I’m very proud of myself today of how I stuck in. Three-over through 14 with some tough holes to play like 16 and 17, even 18 you could easily shoot 78 or 79 so to turn it around after the double I am very proud.”

Many will take fives and sixes from where Maguire’s tee shot ended up on the par-3 17th but the 22-year-old made a heroic up and down from the gaping front bunker, rolling in a three-footer for a “scandalous” par save as described by his coach, Donal Scott.

“Seeing the ball spin back on 17, I was a little annoyed the crowd were going ‘ooh’ and ‘aaah’, to stand up then and hit that shot from the bunker kept me in it. If that goes wrong it could be back down at my feet in a worse spot and you are staring a six in the face. To get up and down for a three was massive.”

The Mornington man is always very confident in himself and has faced countless pressure situations during a trophy-laden amateur career but standing on the first tee of an Open Championship is different gravy.

“Definitely the most nervous I’ve ever been in my whole life,” smiled Maguire who found the fairway, the middle of the first green and made a routine two putt par. “I’ve been under sort of pressure situations before, like sort of at the end of a match, but the first tee shot is usually okay for me. Today it was a struggle to get the ball on the tee.

“Me and my coach worked on committing to a tempo, a target, and wherever the ball goes just follow it. I would say after the second tee shot the nerves went away.

“The first shot, sort of first iron shot and first putt I was sort of nervous. Hit an 8-iron into the first and hit a really good putt, and sort of after that you get your bearings and walking up the second hole I felt fine.”

At the time of writing, Magurie lies in a share of 43rd place and is in position to make the cut. The boyhood Liverpool fan – who at the start of the week said he is not here to make up the numbers given his formidable links record – was slightly disappointed he didn’t hit red figures.

“I played great. It’s probably the best I’ve played in a long while. Probably since St Andrews I was hitting every single fairway. I was hitting every green beside maybe 2; had to pitch that one. Yeah, the front nine was great, and then I got unlucky on 10. Hit driver down 10, and I hung up on the rough, really bad shot spot and I made bogey there.

“Hard to say this when you’re an elite golfer, but if you take out the double, I played probably as good of golf as I could have played out there, minus holing a few putts.”

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