Leona Maguire favourite with bookmakers to add Irish Open to her career CV

At 14 in Rolex World Rankings, she is the standout player in the field for tournament which starts at Dromoland Castle in Co Clare on Thursday

In the numbers game that is golf, where every shot counts, Leona Maguire’s quest to add the KPMG Women’s Irish Open – which gets under way at Dromoland Castle in Co Clare on Thursday – to her career CV is very much backed up by her headline status for the Ladies European Tour (LET) event.

At 14 in the Rolex World Rankings, she is the standout player in the field. And, at 3/1 favourite with the bookmakers, she’s also carrying that weight of expectation.

The tournament’s return to the schedule last year, after a 10-year absence from the LET, saw Czech golfer Klára Davidson Spilková add her name to a roll of honour that also numbers such past superstars as Suzann Pettersen and Laura Davies, with Maguire ultimately finishing in fourth place.

Since then, Maguire has claimed a second LPGA Tour title in winning the Meijer Classic back in June; with a second appearance for Europe in the Solheim Cup on the horizon, the 28-year-old Co Cavan golfer would love nothing better than to add her national championship to an impressive list of career honours.


“You try and treat it like any other week, I suppose, and play as well as you can. You want to do well every week and this week is no different. I’m going to try and play as well as I possibly can, it’s just an added bonus this week that you have extra people cheering for you and clapping when you hit a good shot. Hopefully, I can give them as much to cheer about as possible,” said Maguire of her approach to this week’s tournament.

Certainly, if last year is anything to go by, the crowds will be very much behind Maguire, but also behind the other Irish players, among them seven of the Ireland’s leading amateurs, who have been able to play this time around with a slightly earlier date in the calendar and so not clashing this time with collegiate life for those on scholarships stateside, among them Beth Coulter and Áine Donegan.

As Maguire put it, “the crowds were amazing last year, and I think everyone was really excited to have this tournament back on the schedule. I remember last year a lot of the LET girls were saying to me, it almost felt like a Major the way the crowds were, so I think everybody is really excited to be here. I think that’s the general feel here this week, you can tell everybody at Dromoland is excited to have us and the players are excited to be here. It’s a win-win for everybody.

“With the dates being a smidge earlier, it’s nice that so many Irish amateurs are getting a chance to play this week. For some of them, it’s their first time playing in a professional event. I was fortunate enough to do that as an amateur when I was younger, so that’s a huge learning experience for them and that’s exactly what you want for a home open.”

Maguire has had a week’s break since last playing in the ISPS Handa World Invitational at Galgorm Castle, an event which followed a hectic summer with one Major championship coming in quick succession to another. Maguire made the cut in all of the majors, with a best finish of tied-11th in the KPMG US Women’s PGA, where she was in contention into the final round.

This Irish Open links into a late-season run that of course has the Solheim Cup as a focus and then on to the LPGA Tour finale, which includes a swing through Asia and on towards the Tour Championship in Florida.

Of winning the Meijer and becoming a multiple tour winner, Maguire observed: “You have to play really, really well to win on tour. You can play really well and someone else can play better so you’re just trying to give yourself the best chance every week and thankfully Meijer was my week. That’s the nice thing when you win – you get to plan your schedule a bit more and take a few more weeks off, take a bit more rest and be fresher going into certain events.

“Anything that happens for the rest of the season is a bonus, with Solheim Cup coming up, and we go to Asia and finish off the year in Florida. Anything from here on out is a bonus. I’m really happy with my season so far and I just want to finish as strong as possible.”

Philip Reid

Philip Reid

Philip Reid is Golf Correspondent of The Irish Times