Donegan “so excited” ahead of second straight U.S. Women’s Open appearance

Mark McGowan

Aine Donegan (Photo: USGA/Kathryn Riley)

Mark McGowan

Feature Interviews

Latest Stories

Aine Donegan captured the imagination and hearts of much of the golfing world with her exploits, easygoing personality and high-level performance at Pebble Beach in the 2023 U.S. Women’s Open, and after finishing as leading qualifier at the qualifier at Rockwall Golf and Country Club, she’s preparing for her second straight USGA women’s showpiece event at Pennsylvania’s Lancaster Country Club.

“So excited,” the 22-year-old responded when asked her emotions after arriving in Lancaster, “ever since I qualified. Obviously, it’s a little bit of a quicker turnaround this time compared to last year at Pebble.

“But it’s not much different from last year. I went from one tournament straight to the US Open. This year came from the National Championship straight here. So two big tournaments in a row, which is kind of nice. And so I haven’t had much time to think about it and just so happy to be here again. And it looks like it’s in absolutely perfect condition.”

At that National Championship, Donegan played a starring role as Louisiana State University topped the strokeplay qualifying – with Donegan finishing as the leading LSU player – before bowing out in the quarterfinal stages in matchplay in heartbreaking fashion.

Given her starring role last year which included donning an earpiece and mic to perform a ‘walk and talk’ for NBC during Friday’s second round, it would be easy for her to arrive in Lancaster with heightened expectations this year, but that’s something she’s guarding against.

“Yeah, I think the less expectations I set for myself the better,” she said. “I try not to think about outcome. Just focus on what I want to do in the moment and stay in the present. And I think that’s something I’m really going to focus on doing this week.

“I tried to rest when we got home from National about four days, Five days since we got home, but I had to pack up my whole apartment and move out.

“I think I’m going to try and get nine holes in today,” she said on Monday. “I was going to play 18, but the weather is not looking like that’s possible, but try to get nine in, maybe 18 tomorrow and then nine on Wednesday. Mostly rest and then just, you know, prepare myself as best I can get to all the slopes and the greens. I heard the course is quite hilly, so that’s kind of it. Yeah, Packing and moving is definitely not restful.”

Like last year at Pebble Beach, Donegan will have longtime coach and mentor, Gary Madden from Glenlo Abbey on the bag.

“He’s coached me since I was nine,” Donegan explains. “He was on it last year as well, and he was actually on the bag when I qualified. He came over for the week, so, it’s great to have a familiar face on the bag and you know, someone who I can bounce things off and someone who I know really well, so it’s great.”

Donegan wouldn’t be human if there wasn’t a little part of her that is dreaming of making history and becoming the first Irish female major winner and just the second amateur to lift the U.S. Women’s Open trophy in its 79-year lifespan, but having fun remains the primary goal and, if last year is anything to go by, she’s more than equipped to do so.

“My biggest goal is just to enjoy it,” she said. “Have fun. Me and Gary spoke about it actually at the qualifier, and he said to me after, ‘when you’re playing your best golf, you’re just having fun, you’re just enjoying it, and that’s that’s the main goal for this week. Just have fun. That’s it.”

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.