Maguire timing her run nicely as season’s first major set to get underway

Mark McGowan

Leona Maguire (Photo by Orlando Ramirez/Getty Images)

Mark McGowan

Feature Interviews

Latest Stories

After a rather sluggish start to 2024 by her own incredibly high standards, Leona Maguire appears to be rounding into form at exactly the right time as the game’s top women prepare to tackle Carlton Woods for the Chevron Championship, the first of the five major championships on the women’s calendar.

Through seven 2024 starts, though she’d yet to miss a cut, the County Cavan star had yet to feature inside the top 10, with inconsistency over the four rounds being the main culprit. But by taking leading strokeplay qualifier honours at the Bank of Hope Matchplay in Las Vegas a fortnight ago, and subsequently advancing to the final where she eventually fell victim to a rampaging Nelly Korda, she signalled that she might have timed her run perfectly to the $7.9 million event.

Since Chevron have come on board, the overall prize fund has risen by $4.8 million in four years, but it’s major glory and not financial reward that Maguire covets most. With five majors in the women’s game, plus the Olympic Games, Solheim Cup and the KPMG Women’s Irish Open to look forward to, Maguire spoke at the end of last year about the challenge of peaking at the right time, something she admits that she’s struggled with in recent years.

But her most recent showing suggests that she’s better equipped than ever to challenge for a maiden major championship win.

The course at Carlton Woods is long, measuring 6,824 yards this week, and when the top female stars tackled it for the first time in 2023, cold and wet conditions made it play significantly longer, conditions that favoured the longer hitters and left Maguire in catch up mode from the off.

But this year promises to be different, and while it’s not exactly baked out, dry and relatively hot conditions should see the course play reasonably firm, putting a premium on accuracy, distance control and short game skills – all areas where Maguire excels.

Stephanie Meadow arrives at the year’s first major as something more of an unknown quantity, given that she’s only made four starts in 2024, but there has been more than enough in those four starts to suggest that her game is in a good place and, having gotten her first taste of major championship contention in almost a decade at last year’s KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, is relishing the opportunity to get back in major mode.

But there is one name that looms large over the entire field: Nelly Korda.

The world number one is seeking a history equalling fifth consecutive LPGA Tour victory, which would draw her alongside Nancy Lopez and Annika Sørenstam. A third place finish here in 2023 was her best major championship result of the year, but the year as a whole was a little stop-start, punctuated by missed cuts and rather abject performances in the middle, but she’s hit the ground running in 2024 and comes in as the most red-hot favourite for a women’s major in recent history.

Defending champion and world number two, Lilia Vu, and former world number one and winner of the first LPGA event of 2023, Lydia Ko were both asked about Korda in their pre-tournament press conferences, which just goes to show where the media’s focus is trained.

But the last 19 major championships have delivered 17 different winners, so, even though Korda is on the precipice of near unprecedented dominance, competition levels have never been higher and she’ll come in under a burning microscope.

Korda, seeking to win her second major title, will play her opening two rounds in the company of two-time major winners Minjee Lee and Lilia Vu in Thursday’s afternoon wave.

Meadow gets the tournament underway from the lead-out grouping off the first tee on Thursday at 07:15 local (13:15 Irish time) alongside Isa Gabsen and Kristen Gillman, while Maguire joins Grace Kim and Solheim Cup foursomes partner Anna Nordqvist just under an hour later at 8:00 am local (14:00 Irish).


Stay ahead of the game. Subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest Irish Golfer news straight to your inbox!

More News

Leave a comment

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy & Terms of Service apply.