Maguire delighted with historic Tour win after 'meticulous journey'

Cavan's Leona Maguire became the first Irish woman to win on the LGPA with her victory in the LPGA Drive On Championship on Saturday
Picture:Steve Nesius/AP 

LEONA Maguire has long had to deal with the weight of expectation.

A teenage prodigy, a former world number one amateur, she was ‘supposed’ to make a smooth transition to the pro ranks, racking up multiple victories in no time at all.

It was never going to be that easy. Maguire’s career path has always included periods of acclimatisation and it’s testament to her resolve and self-confidence that she has found a way to channel all that well-meaning interest in a positive fashion.

The 2021 season included a couple of near misses and a stunning unbeaten Solheim Cup display that only served to raise the expectation levels even further.

On Saturday, the 27-year-old from Cavan, put all those experiences to good use, firing a final round 67 at the LPGA Drive On Championship to cruise into the winner’s circle for the first time in her LPGA Tour career.

In doing so she became the first woman from Ireland to win in the Tour’s history.

“I think I've worked my way up the levels every time. It's been a meticulous journey. I did it my way, the way I wanted to do it, with the help of my team around me,” said Maguire.

“I've been prepared at each level and mastered each level. I know people probably thought I was going to win before this. I was maybe getting a little impatient last year, but I think going down the stretch at Meijer last year with Nelly (Korda), was a huge confidence boost for me.

“Knowing that, yeah, she was three shots ahead and I nearly closed the gap, but I really felt like I held my own that week, and then the 61 at Evian too, and the Solheim Cup was a massive confidence booster.

“Solheim Cup is one thing. To do it in an individual event when it's just you out there by yourself, it's a different ball game. I feel like I've been growing all the time. I did a lot of good work at home with Shane (O’Grady) over the winter. Didn't expect for it to pay off this early in the season.”

Heading into the final day tied for the lead with Marina Alex, Maguire said she didn’t look at leaderboards until the fairway on No. 18 and didn’t know how others were performing.

After carding her first birdie on the second, she picked up speed after a bogey on the third with back-to-back birdies on seven and eight, and closed with a 33 on her back-nine holes.

The two-time Olympian added: “I suppose people have always had expectations, and I feel like even at Christmas people were, ‘When are you going to win? When are you going to win?’ That was on the tip of everybody's tongue.

“Last year was a great season but there was no win, so it almost felt like it had an asterisk but I knew I wasn't far away.

“Relying on the people that I trust I think has been massive. Sticking to my guns knowing that what I was doing was working. I just needed a little bit more time.

“I'm obviously delighted for people to be able to enjoy the win today, but at the same time, I'm the one hitting the shots and putting in the long hours. I'm the one that's there at the range until dark, up first thing.

“Nobody sees that grind that goes behind it. Ultimately today I didn't really care about the outcome. It was as long as I knew I gave it my best shot there was ultimately nothing I could do.”

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