Leona Maguire’s cool brilliance ensures Europe’s first win of the Solheim Cup

Cavan woman chipped in for a birdie on the 18th, cue wild fist pumps and the widest and happiest of smiles

Her expression rarely deviated, through bad and good and the in-between. She had her game face on, which is how Leona Maguire has embraced the Solheim Cup. It’s her turf.

Whether it was when Anna Nordqvist drove her tee shot into a bush during the foursomes, or when Georgia Hall’s safety-first iron tee shot cut left on to the bridge and into the water in the fourballs, the Cavan player – eyes hidden behind her Oakley wraparound sunglasses – kept a focus that has become part of her armoury.

Of course, there were those fist pumps which have become part of her whenever clutch putts disappeared into tin cups.

And, oh, there was a smile when 13 bananas – aka Nordqvist’s singing fan club – serenaded her with an impromptu song while waiting to tee off on the fifth hole.


But, mainly, it was about Leona Maguire doing what Leona Maguire does in this Europe versus the United States coliseum.

A disappointing one hole loss in partnership with Nordqvist to Nelly Korda and Allisen Corpuz in the morning foursomes when on the wrong side of a complete whitewash of that first session to the Americans gave Maguire a first ever defeat in the match, having played a starring role in Europe’s win in Toledo two years ago when she won four and a half points from five, but the setback only fuelled her fire.

Even in the losing foursomes, there was evidence of her fight. When Maguire holed a 15 footer for birdie on the 16th (to win) and rolled in an 18-footer on the 17th (to halve), Nordqvist’s reaction was to shake her head and smile, as if to say, “this girl.”

And how Maguire later provided the real proof, with the very final shot of a long, long day’s work.

In a fourballs match alongside Hall against the big-hitting Lexi Thompson and Lilia Vu, the two-time Major winner of this year, a match that had seemed out of reach and then tantalisingly within touching distance, Maguire chipped in for a birdie on the 18th from 15 yards. Cue wild fist pumps and the widest and happiest of smiles as the game face showed joyous emotion.

Except, it wasn’t over. Thompson had reached the fringe of the Par 5 in two with her ball nestled in the Bermuda greenside rough. If she followed Maguire’s chip in for an eagle, Maguire’s joy would be short-lived.

But Thompson’s chip twisted right, a nasty shank. Where firstly she was chipping from five yards, her next attempt for a birdie to halve the match was from 30 yards. That effort at salvation finished a couple of feet away and when Vu missed her 30 footer for birdie, it meant Maguire’s cool brilliance had ensured Europe’s first win with Hall of a tough day. A one hole win, on the 18th, the best way of all.

“Leona chipping in was just what we needed. That’s why she’s such a great player,” observed Hall of her playing partner’s brilliant execution of the chip shot under pressure.

Maguire, naturally, was delighted: “It would have been really annoying not to come away with a point. Georgia kept it together on the front nine, I holed a couple on the back. It is nice to finish in style ... you have to play some really good golf to win a point, even a halved point, in these matches. We will never give up and I think we showed that out there today.”

Philip Reid

Philip Reid

Philip Reid is Golf Correspondent of The Irish Times