Maguire relishing underdog tag: We are not intimidated by the Americans

Ronan MacNamara

Alex Maguire (Photo by Ross Parker/R&A/R&A via Getty Images)

Rónán MacNamara at the Old Course 

Beware of the (bullish) underdog, particularly one who has won around the Old Course as recently as June!

Alex Maguire isn’t entertaining any notions that the USA team are here to romp to their fourth successive Walker Cup title and has no problem being the underdog this weekend at the 49th Walker Cup which marks the centenary of the first playing at St Andrews.


When both ten-man squads were announced much was made of the apparent disparity between the sides in the World Amateur Golf Rankings with USA boasting the world number one Gordon Sargent and nine of the top-20 players in the world while John Gough of England – whose parents hail from Meath and Down – is Great Britain and Ireland’s only top-20 representative. But this is matchplay and while rankings look good on paper, Maguire knows it’s about the fine margins in matchplay.

“That’s absolutely fine. I don’t mind being the underdog, I want to play being the underdog. I have won a few times playing as the underdog,” the Laytown&Bettystown man bullishly responds to a question from the American media.

“The team who holes the most putts is going to win, our games are definitely good enough to compete with the Americans we were told to practice putting because that’s what it will come down to, you will be surprised though by how similar our games are to the Americans. They are obviously great players and are high up the world rankings for a reason but at the end of the day it will come down to who can hole the most ten footers and five footers.”

Team Captain Stuart Wilson is also confident his charges can surprise the doubters who see this weekend’s contest at the Home of Golf as a foregone conclusion.

“I think it’s fair to say we’re probably always going to be in the underdogs, the second favourites in a two-horse race every time this comes around.

“History tells us that’s probably appropriate, but then when you look at the results over the last 25 years, it’s become a lot more evenly matched certainly with home advantage, as well.”

Maguire is one of four Irish players on Stuart Wilson’s ten-man team this week making Ireland the most represented country on the GB&I side and the largest Irish contingent since the ‘Famous Five’ of 2015 which is also the last time the hosts won the Walker Cup.

“It’s class. As an Irishman it’s amazing to have three of the lads alongside me, even sitting here is so surreal. Seeing the Famous Five who played Lytham I wanted to be one of those guys and I am sure it’s the same for Matt, Mark and Liam,” the 22-year-old explains.

“Seeing the pictures of the five lads with the trophy and they actually brought it to Carton House that January and I was there so since seeing that I have always wanted to be part of a Walker Cup team and to have three of the lads from Ireland with me and to be the most represented country here, yeah, it’s a massive sense of pride being Irish this week.

“Being part of a team is something that I’ve been used to over the last few years. Being over at Florida Atlantic University and having the chance to play a lot of competitive golf and so on and practising all year-round I think has given me a bit of an advantage and definitely made me a better player over the last few years. I think if you asked me four years ago, I wouldn’t say I was good enough to ever play a Walker Cup, but yeah, being over in Florida has definitely prepared me for this moment.”

The Mornington man boasts a trophy-laden CV with a win in the St Andrews Links Trophy, back-to-back East of Ireland titles and a bronze medal on his Irish debut in the European Team Championships while he also appeared in the Open Championship in Royal Liverpool and reached the semi-final and quarter-final of the Amateur Championship over the last two years.

Speaking of what he could bring to the party on his Walker Cup debut, Maguire affirmed his intention to bring a never say die attitude and a passion which could see him become the heartbeat of the team this weekend if the intensity in his eyes is anything to go by.

“I’ll bring a bit of grit and intensity to the team which is something I am looking forward to,” he confirms.

“I won’t give up regardless of the state of my match whether I am out first, last or in the middle I will do my job and fight for every shot. I am going to try my hardest to collect myself for the next shot and be prepared for the next challenge ahead of me. My coach always said just pretend you always wanted the ball to be there, so if you hit an eighty yard hook pretend you wanted it to go there and it gets you in a positive state of mind.”



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