Leona Maguire claims Sportswoman of the Month award for June

Cavan golfer produced a blistering finish to win her second LPGA title and become the first Irish woman to move into the world’s top 10

The Irish Times/Sport Ireland Sportswoman Award for June: Leona Maguire (Golf)

Leona Maguire would have been forgiven for thinking that winning the Meijer LPGA Classic just wasn’t meant to be.

Two years ago she finished second behind Nelly Korda and last year she lost out in a play-off to Jennifer Kupcho. But you know what they say, if at first you don’t succeed...

When she tried again in June, at the Blythefield Country Club in Michigan, she put herself in contention once more with opening rounds of 69, 65 and 69.


And then she finished up with a remarkable run of birdie-eagle-par-birdie-birdie-birdie from the 13th to the 18th on the final day, part of a bogey-free round of 64, which gave her a two-shot margin of victory over Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn – and the second LPGA title of her career.

The first came at the Drive On Championship in February of last year, Maguire experiencing her fair share of frustration since then, not least at the Meijer LPGA Classic. There was no shortage of top 10 finishes, but adding that second title to her CV was proving tricky – until June.

A week later, it looked like she might add the first Major of her career to that CV when she took a one-shot lead into the final round of the PGA Championship in New Jersey, but she came up short in the end, having to settle for a tie for 11th on a day that saw a two-pronged Irish challenge for the title, Stephanie Meadow finishing up in a tie for third.

Maguire’s run of results was, though, enough to see her break in to the world’s top 10 for the first time, making her the first Irish woman to achieve the feat. And she has two more Majors to aim for this year with the Evian and the AIG Women’s Open both coming up in the next few weeks.

The 28-year-old’s season’s earnings are pushing towards the $1m million dollar mark, which gives a fair indication of the kind of year she’s enjoying. You’d suspect there’s more to come.

Previous Monthly Winners (the awards run from December 2022 to November 2023, inclusive):

December: Eilish and Roisin Flanagan (Athletics). The combined efforts of the Tyrone twins, who finished in 11th and 12th place, helped Ireland to a bronze medal at the European Cross Country Championships in Italy, despite being without Fionnuala McCormack and Ciara Mageean.

January: Rhasidat Adeleke (Athletics). Where do you start? The University of Texas runner is having a phenomenal start to the year, setting a string of Irish records, among them her smashing of her own 400 metres record when she became the first Irish woman to break 50 seconds.

February: Orla Prendergast (Cricket). The 20-year-old was named in the T20 World Cup team of the tournament after impressing with both bat and ball for Ireland. And she started a spell with English side Western Storm in style in April, scoring 115 on her debut.

March: Rachael Blackmore (Horse racing). She’s produced her fair share of special days at Cheltenham over the last few years, but Blackmore riding Honeysuckle to victory at this year’s festival, in the mare’s final race, will live long in the memory.

April: Thammy Nguyan (Weightlifting). Nguyan made history in Armenia by becoming the first Irish competitor to win a senior medal in the European Weightlifting Championships. She’s now targeting a place in next year’s Olympic Games.

May: Lucy Mulhall (Rugby). In Toulouse in May, in the final event of the seven-tournament World Series, the Wicklow woman captained the Irish Sevens team to qualification for the Olympic Games by taking fifth place in the overall standings. Mulhall won her 50th cap in the tournament and finished as Ireland’s highest points scorer in the series.

Mary Hannigan

Mary Hannigan

Mary Hannigan is a sports writer with The Irish Times