Donegan hopes the wind blows in her direction at Pebble Beach

Ronan MacNamara

Aine Donegan

Practice rounds with Annika Sorenstam, Lexi Thompson and Michelle Wie, Lahinch’s Aine Donegan certainly won’t slum it on her major championship debut at the US Women’s Open this week.

The Irish amateur scene has been a presence across the major championships this year with Malone’s Matthew McClean teeing it up in the Masters and US Open while Laytown & Bettystown star Alex Maguire qualified for the Open Championship in Hoylake.

Now it’s Donegan’s turn to show the world what she can do at Pebble Beach this week after she came through a qualifier in Peninsula Golf and Country Club in San Mateo only because her friend Anna Foster (Elm Park) told her it was on!


“It’s mad we just said we would go out and play and have a bit of fun, I had no expectations because top-2 qualify from 70 players,” explains Donegan.

“We had to share hand warmers we got from the pro – he only had one pair in his golf bag – it was so cold,” the 21-year-old recalls. “When we arrived at 5:30 am, I said, ‘Anna, look how windy it is. If it stays this windy, and it’s only going to get windier, like we’ve got a chance today. When we were playing the second round, it was the windiest I’ve very played in. Windier than anywhere in Ireland. It was four to five clubs and I’m thinking, there’s no way that these Americans can play in this wind.”

The LSU student will be hoping for more blustery conditions in California this week as she joins world number ten Leona Maguire in the field – although she hasn’t been able to arrange a practice round with her just yet!

“I have a few practice rounds lined up with big names. I put my name down with Annika Sorenstam and Lexi Thompson one of the days and Michelle Wie. There are a few big names I saw slots free beside them so I thought ‘go on’ all the slots were taken beside Leona! But I’m sure I’ll see her anyway.

“Just the fact it’s on in Pebble Beach of all places. I feel if you ask an Irish person to name three courses in America it would be one of them.

“My preferred course is links because I play better in the wind so the fact it’s on there and what I like most is that I didn’t even expect to get through sure I didn’t even know that the qualifier was on so I owe it all to Anna for telling me!”

Donegan’s coach from Glenloe Abbey will loop for her this week while her parents, friends and extended family will be lining the fairways to support her as she casts her eyes towards playing all four rounds.

“My coach Gary Madden who I have been with since I was nine at Glenloe Abbey is coming out to caddy, my parents, brother and I have an aunt in Boston and a few friends in California who might come out too. I’m really looking forward to it, I can’t wait.

“I’m going to try and enjoy it and have no expectations like the qualifier because I think I do better! You’re only an amateur in college once or twice maybe so just go out and enjoy it. My main goal is to make the cut, I feel that’s a reasonable target.

“Hopefully I get paired with someone cool and just embrace it all.”

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