Maguire expecting Walton Heath to pose different challenges to past British Opens

Mark McGowan

Leona Maguire (Photo by R&A/R&A via Getty Images)

It’s become something of the norm that Leona Maguire arrives at a major championship as one of the pre-tournament favourites and after a career-best fourth place finish at Muirfield last year, she’s again highly fancied though expects Walton Heath to play quite differently than the past few Women’s British Opens have.

“Yeah, I think it’s a very different British Open test than we’ve had the last few years,” Maguire said. “The golf course is soft and there’s a lot of woods out there, and there will be a lot of hybrids. I played the back nine this morning, and apart from the par 5s, I think I hit one iron into the green. So it’s definitely playing long and I imagine it will dry out as the week goes on hopefully and a few tees will get moved around. Overall, I think it will be a really good test.”

Despite not being one of the longer players in the women’s game, Maguire isn’t fazed by the prospect of a long-playing golf course this week and believes that lag-putting could be a key factor in deciding the eventual winner


“Yeah, I like hitting my woods and my hybrid,” she said, “so it’s not something that bothers me. I think the way the greens are, the greens are huge. There’s some really, really big greens, so a lot of pace putting and stuff like that in the practice round as opposed to sort of chipping around the green and that.

“You’re just going to have been patient and take your chances where you get them. As with any major, the par 3s are tricky, so sort of take your chances on the par 5s and elsewhere.”

Maguire and Stephanie Meadow have been the trailblazers for Irish women on the LPGA Tour and in major championships, and following Aine Donegan’s successful week at the U.S. Women’s Open, the duo will have Elm Park’s Anna Foster for company this week after the Auburn University student advanced through Final Qualifying at Hankley Common earlier this week.

“I haven’t met Anna,” Maguire conceded when asked what advice she may have for her fellow countrywoman, “but great achievement for her to qualify, to come through the qualifier. I mean, I’m sure she was watching Áine at the U.S. Open and trying to emulate what she did at Pebble.

“I was fortunate to play in the British Open a few times as an amateur, and it’s obviously a big experience and she’ll sort of hopefully take it all in and not put too much pressure on herself, I would say and try to enjoy it as much as she can, and hopefully she’s got quite a few more of these ahead of her.”

Maguire’s success has captured the nation’s attention and she acknowledges the media and public attention that she has garnered back in her homeland.

“Yeah, I think golf is a very respected sport in Ireland,” she said. “It gets a lot of coverage. A lot of people are interested in it. I think you’ll see that with the Irish Women’s Open at Dromoland Castle in a few weeks’ time. People are very passionate and knowledgeable about their golf in Ireland and I think the reporting on that fits in with that as well.”

The success of her contemporaries and predecessors in the men’s game has not only inspired Maguire but they’ve often been available for advice and to bounce ideas off.

“Pádraig’s been quite generous with his time and his advice,” she said. “Chatted to Shane [Lowry], and chatted to Paul McGinley, he has been a big help as well. He was our captain at the Rio Olympics and has been a big help with advice. To be fair they are all shared their knowledge in different ways and they have all had very different experiences and I’ve kind of leaned on all of them at different times for different bits of advice.”

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