One week, the Nevada desert; the next, the skyscrapers of New York.
The diversity of the LPGA Tour’s state-hopping from week to week is such that a travel guide would be a useful addition to any luggage, apart from the fact that people like Leona Maguire pretty much only have time, in truth, for journeying between hotel and golf course.
After a fine performance in last week’s Bank of Hope Matchplay Championship – where the 29-year-old Cavan golfer finished tied-third, beaten in the semi-final by Ayaka Furue – at Shadow Creek, Maguire goes chasing a second career LPGA Tour title at this week’s Mizuho Americas Open at Liberty National in New Jersey.
“I obviously would have liked to have won the whole thing but, I suppose, if you’d offered me a semi-final at the start of the week I would have taken it. It’s a lot of golf on a big golf course on a hot week, so I suppose I ran out of steam a little bit,” said Maguire of falling short at the penultimate stage.
But moving on to the Americas Open, a new event on the circuit, she is aware that her game is in fine shape in a season where she has already notched up three top-10s.
Of getting that second career win stateside, Maguire added: “You’re trying to win every event you enter but the standard is so high. There’s a lot of things that have to go right for a lot of those pieces to fall into place, so ultimately all you can do is play your best and try as hard as you possible can and see where that leaves up on Sunday evening every week.”
Maguire has sought to map out a schedule that has her fresh and hungry in any given week, but also with an eye on all of the Majors. And, as it happens, this week’s tour stop is close by the site for the upcoming KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and she has arranged for a reconnaissance visit to Baltusrol come Monday. Her caddie, Dermot Byrne, previously worked the bag for Shane Lowry when the US PGA was held there in 2016.
“By all accounts, it’s a big, beasty golf course which is usually the case with the PGA events, so we’ll have to bring the A-Game there, no doubt, in a few weeks.”
And, providing further proof of how Maguire is preparing for the Major challenges, she has also sought out Graeme McDowell for advice for next month’s US Open which will be played at famed Pebble Beach, where of course G-Mac won his own Major in the men’s US Open back in 2010.
“Dermot obviously worked with Shane for a long time and I’ve picked Paddy’s brains a few times,” said Maguire of getting an insights on Pebble Beach from Pádraig Harrington, adding: “And I’ve chatted to G-Mac, we practice at the same club in Orlando so he had a few insights.”
All of that future planning is important for any golfer with aspirations on lifting a Major trophy and Maguire’s due diligence is part of that desire to achieve success on the biggest stages.
Certainly, her game is in great shape. As she put it, “I’m trying to make improvements all the time. My driving was something that we’ve put particular attention into in the last few weeks and months, getting the accuracy of that up, and I drove the ball really well last week, so we’re working on that all the time.”
And, from this week on, every birdie Maguire makes in tournament play – up to the KPMG Irish Open at Dromoland Castle in September – will go beyond just being a number on her scorecard.
As part of KPMG’s “Books for Birdies” initiative, every birdie recorded by Maguire will see one children’s book donated by the company to local schools in Newmarket-on-Fergus and a number of DEIS schools around Dromoland Castle. The initiative starts with the Americas Open and will finish on the Sunday of the Irish Open, where it will be extended to include all players in the field.
“Education has always been close to my heart,” said Maguire. “It’s a really nice initiative, I think, and an extra incentive for me over the coming weeks and summer months to try and make as many birdies as I can to get as many schoolbooks as possible for the kids for KPMG.”