Leona Maguire is the latest winner on the LPGA tour, winning the Drive On Championship in Florida. A former world number one at amateur level, the 27-year-old is the first Irishwoman to win an LPGA Tour event.
Maguire, from Cavan, Ireland, already has her place in golfing history having spent 135 weeks as the number one ranked woman in the World Amateur Golf Ranking (May 2015 – May 2016 and August 2016 – February 2018). Maguire turned professional in June 2018 alongside her twin sister, Lisa Maguire, and signed to management company Modest!, owned by One Direction star Niall Horan.
While her twin sister would retire from competitive golf in 2019, due to her inability to develop a new golf swing, Leona climbed 440 places to rank 174th in the world. By the beginning of the 2020 season, Maguire was ranked 100 by the LPGA and made her tour debut at the Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Rio on 23 January.
In 2021, Maguire achieved what was then the highest placing of any Irishwoman when she finished joint-second at the Lotte Championship, winning a cool $125,834 (her biggest winnings at the time) and posted a 267 (68, 67, 65, 67) tournament score, the lowest in her professional career.
2021 was also a big year for Maguire as she broke into the top 50 in the world and earned a call-up to represent Team Europe at that year’s Solheim Cup, becoming the first-ever Irishwoman to do so. She more than did herself proud as she broke the all-time points record for any rookie in either the Solheim Cup or Ryder Cup, by scoring 4.5 points – two points more than anyone else at the 2021 Solheim Cup.
Her honours didn’t stop there for the year, as she came runner-up in the LPGA Rookie of the Year award and won the Irish Golf Writers’ Association’s Professional Player of the Year, becoming only the second woman to do so (with Stephanie Meadow the first in 2018). Maguire also broke into the top 40 in the world by the end of 2021.
The First of Many?
Ranked 37th in the world, Maguire arrived at the LPGA Drive On Championship off the back of a decent showing at the Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Rio, finishing just outside of the top 20. With rounds of 66, 65 and 67, Maguire finished 18 under par and three strokes ahead of former major winner Lexi Thompson in second.
Maguire took home her biggest prize money win, $225,000, for her maiden LPGA Tour victory and received plaudits for doing so, including from the President of Ireland Michael Higgins, who posted on Twitter:
“Congratulations to @leona_maguirefor her historic achievement in becoming the first Irish@LPGATour winner at the Drive On Championship. Another fantastic Irish sportswoman leadingthe way internationally.”
At just 27 years of age, and a professional career still on the upwards trajectory, the hope is that this is just the first of many golf trophies on the circuit for Maguire. She will undoubtedly have her eyes set on challenging at the Chevron Championship, the first of the year’s five major championships, beginning on 30 March in California at Mission Hills Country Club.
Don’t be surprised to see this Irish girl continue to climb the world rankings and rewrite the history books, taking her place at the top table of women’s golf. The sky is Leona Maguire’s limit.