Leona Maguire feels that Carton House is facing an uphill task in emulating what’s been two incredible KPMG Women’s Irish Opens at Dromoland Castle, the former which revived the event and the latter which cemented its status as one of the best on the LET circuit.
“I think Dromoland deserves a serious amount of credit,” Maguire said. “They’ve put on a world class event two years in a row. Carton House has massive, massive shoes to fill. I don’t envy them. I think Dromoland has done an absolutely fantastic job. Even to listen to the LET girls, this is one of the best events they play bar the Majors – and I’d argue this is better than some of the Majors we’ve played this year.
“I don’t envy Carton House. They’ve obviously done the men’s a couple of times.
“The crowds have been fantastic down here in Clare. People have come from Cork, Limerick, all the rest. People around Dublin have big shoes to fill if they’re going to pull off what Dromoland has done for the last two years.”
Though Maguire, the star attraction of the event and an inspiration to countless aspiring young golfers, male and female, didn’t quite have her ‘A’ game this week, she knows that her game isn’t far away.
“I felt like I played some really good golf,” she said. “Under par all four days. Just didn’t quite all fit together but overall it was great to have so much support all week. Great crowds every single day. This event is going from strength to strength, it’s fantastic to see.”
It was a busy week for Maguire, who, along with being asked to produce top-quality golf for four straight days, as a KPMG ambassador, was obliged to fulfill several other promotional events and there were no shortage of autograph and photo requests from the high volume of children in attendance.
“I was wearing a lot of hats this week,” she said. “I had more than one job to complete this week. It’s one of those things, one of those weeks that it’s a bit bigger than yourself. I tried my best. Hopefully everybody had a great week.
“Yeah it was brilliant to see so many kids watching on and following every day,” she said, before adding with a smile: “They must have taken a couple of days off school to come out. No, it’s great to see. Hopefully it will inspire them to maybe get clubs for Christmas or continue on, whatever their golf journey is.”
Maguire, who started the day eight back, gave the large galleries their money’s worth as she reeled off three birdies in the opening six holes to spark hopes of a fairytale Sunday, but ran out of steam around the turn and wasn’t able to maintain her charge on the way home.
“Yeah, got off to a really nice start,” she recalled. “Played some really nice shots early on. Nice to be three under through six. Just didn’t really kick on. I felt like I didn’t really hit many bad shots, just wasn’t quite there. Never really got any major momentum on the back nine.
“I knew I had to go low anyway, I had to shoot nine, 10 under. So I had to go for everything. I didn’t come here to finish 20th; I didn’t come here to shoot level par. It was a case of going for everything.”
The weather over the weekend certainly helped, but the turnout was one of the highlights of the week and this wasn’t lost on the players inside the ropes, many of whom could barely contain their delight at having such a large and captive audience. Sunday’s attendance was in excess of 10,000, with more than 30,000 filing through the gates over the week.
“Been very lucky with the crowds,” Maguire said. “It’s fantastic to see so many people out supporting women’s golf. I hope it was a really great experience for the amateurs playing this week, not just for me. Hopefully this event will keep getting bigger every year.
The strong performances from Ireland’s amateurs, four of whom made the cut, was another highlight and Maguire’s influence on the next generation of talent can’t be overstated.
“There’s a lot of them going back to the States so they’ve had a busy summer and a busy fall ahead of them,” she said. “It’s great to see so many of them doing well. Hopefully they can kick on.
“Obviously Lauren [Walsh] just missed her card at Q school this week – that’s unfortunate for her. But there’s plenty of good golfers coming up through the ranks. Hopefully there will be even more in the next few years.”
Next up, of course, is the Solheim Cup and Maguire is likely to play a strong role if Europe are to make it three wins in a row over the Americans.
“A couple of weeks now to get ready and prepare for that,” was her reply when asked what the next fortnight had in store, “and then a very busy stretch after that, straight back to the States. A lot of golf to be played this season so we’ll try and finish off as strong as we can.”