Maguire on Walker Cup dream: I don’t know if it gets any better than this!

Ronan MacNamara

Alex Maguire (Photo by Stuart Kerr/R&A/R&A via Getty Images)

After stewing over some negative ‘what if’s’ over the last few weeks, Laytown & Bettystown star Alex Maguire is ready to realise his Walker Cup dream.

Having been omitted from the provisional panel last December, Maguire is one of two players (Jack Bigham) to play his way into Stuart Wilson’s ten-man Great Britain and Ireland Walker Cup team for next month’s contest vs the USA in St Andrews.

Next month will be the 49th edition of the biennial contest and will mark 100 years since it was first played at the Home of Golf. It is also the site of where Maguire’s Walker Cup bid gathered pace when he won the St Andrews Links Trophy on the Old Course in June.


“I don’t know if it could get any better than this! The fact it’s the centenary of the Walker Cup at St Andrews especially where I won a few months ago it’s probably going to be one of the best weeks ever of my golfing career no matter what I go on to do afterwards,” explains Maguire. “To make any Walker Cup team is very special but at St Andrews the Home of Golf there will be so much planned that will just add to how amazing the week will be.

“At the start of the year when I wasn’t named on the panel I always said I would rather be picked on the ten-man panel in August than the December one and luckily I have played my way on and I am really looking forward to it.

“It’s nice that it’s public now, I’ve know for a few days, getting the call off the captain was very surreal. People were thinking I was going to make the team and obviously as a player and somebody who wants to make the team so bad I was saying we’ll see what happens and whatever the selectors pick I’ll go with but to actually be chosen on the team is something I’m very proud of.”

The 22-year-old is one of four Irishmen on the GB&I team as the hosts bid to arrest a run of three straight defeats in the contest. Ireland will be the most represented nation on the team next month with Liam Nolan (Galway), Mark Power (Kilkenny) and Matthew McClean (Malone) also receiving call ups which is testament to the work Golf Ireland have put in to helping their players across the year.

“Everyone who has been picked has played phenomenal golf this year. Liam won the Brabazon, Matt won the US Mid-Am and Mark has played Walker Cup before so the standard in this country is at an all-time high. It’s nice to be the most represented country on the team which is testament to how the Golf Ireland programme is ran,” explains Maguire who made his senior Irish debut earlier this summer.

“They give us such great opportunities to go away and play and to get coaching and all the stuff we need to play our best golf, they have done an amazing job so it should be very satisfying for them to have four Walker Cup players on the team, it’s a big bonus for the hard work they put in for us and the opportunities they give us has paid off.”

Knowing he had to play his way onto the team having missed out on the provisional panel, Maguire proved difficult to ignore when he returned home from the States, winning the St Andrews Links Trophy, successfully defending his East of Ireland title while also making it to the quarter-final of the Amateur Championship.

The Mornington man also finished fourth at the Irish Amateur Championship and made his major championship debut at the Open Championship having qualified via the R&A Open Amateur Series. Impressive performances came at the European Team, Bonallack Trophy and Home Internationals and in the end he broke the Walker Cup door down and will tee it up as GB&I’s most in form player at present.

“Selfishly, yes probably (I thought I had done enough). But you know with selectors they look at everything so I didn’t play great in the spring over in America so in the back of my mind I was hoping they would value more recent performances heavily. The summer I had I felt I was definitely one of the leading contenders but then in the back of the mind you’re thinking of the poor performances you put in and all the missed putts and bad drives in front of R&A selectors. I didn’t let myself think I was on the team until I got the call. I felt like I did enough but you always have that doubt in your mind because I have been there before when you get the call to say you’re not on the team so I stayed in my bubble until I got the call.

“I wouldn’t be one to play to make a team but when the Walker Cup is the biggest event an amateur can play in it’s always in your mind when you’re playing events. If you’re outside the top-10 or say 25th with five holes to go, making three birdies to finish 12th is way better for your selection chances than settling for 25th. If you grind out a few scores they could be the sort of scores that make the difference at the end of the year and help you get on the team. Winning is great but it’s the consistency that the R&A selectors love and if you can nick a win it’s massive for them.”

Winning the St Andrews Links Trophy proved the turning point in Maguire’s season and potentially his career going forward. Had he not won at the Old Course opportunities at the Open Championship and on teams might not have been forthcoming. Everything has not fallen, rather snowballed at a rapid pace into place.

“I was playing with my friend and caddie at the Open, Jack in Bettystown this morning and he asked if I hadn’t won in St Andrews would I be on the team if I had come second. I would have said yeah but then if I don’t win the St Andrews Links Trophy, I don’t win the Open Series, I don’t play in the Open, don’t get into the Bonallack Trophy. There are a lot of things that happen when you win that you don’t really realise so after St Andrews it was an amazing win in a very special place but it gave me a lot more opportunities down the line especially to play there again in a few weeks! To win is great but the year in it and the timing it has given me more opportunities than I could even asked.”

A player who has been overlooked by selection panels in the past, it was a long hard winter for Maguire who endured a difficult spring period Stateside but it has paved the way for a sensational breakthrough year, one he has not been afforded the opportunity to reflect on just yet.

Now he is at the pinnacle of amateur golf.

“It’s mad I haven’t really had a chance to sit back and dwell on what I have done this year, it’s all snowballed in the right direction. Going back to last year I wasn’t picked for Europeans or Homes and didn’t play my best golf. From playing nothing last year to everything this year. Since winning at St Andrews it has catapulted me into a different stratosphere and it has all happened so fast so it’s been hard to soak up the good times. The Walker Cup is a week-long event so I will do my best to soak it all in because an opportunity like this doesn’t come along very often.”

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