GolfDifferent Strokes

Leona Maguire to get her LPGA season under way at Tournament of Champions

New book ‘320 Shades of Greens’ highlights all of Ireland’s 18-hole courses

Leona Maguire is part of the elite, limited field – confined to LPGA Tour tournament winners of the past two seasons – who open their season’s work at this week’s HGV Tournament of Champions at Lake Nona in Florida.

The 29-year-old Co Cavan golfer, a two-time winner on the US circuit, is heading into another busy season – in the field for all five Majors and also for the Olympics in Paris – but acknowledged that getting to kick-start her year in Lake Nona, which is her US base, is a perfect starting point.

“That’s always the goal of every year, to make sure you’re there,” admitted Maguire, who will play back-to-back weeks in Florida (also competing in next week’s Drive On Championship) before deciding on her remaining schedule.

As she put it, “It’s a stop-start couple of months but it’s going to be a very, very busy summer. So I need to figure out [scheduling] to make sure there’s plenty of energy in the tank.”


Maguire is not alone in getting her season up and running this week, as Shane Lowry is in the field for the American Express championship in La Quinta, California (where Séamus Power is also playing), while Rory McIlroy defends his Hero Dubai Desert Classic title. Tom McKibbin and Pádraig Harrington, recovered from pneumonia, are also playing in the UAE.

New book highlights Ireland’s courses

As a labour of love, you’ve got to hand it to Pat Smyth – a member of Royal Tara Golf Club – who got the germ of an idea to write a book featuring all of the 18-hole golf courses in Ireland while away on a pre-Covid weekend trip to Connemara.

The upshot is a self-published book detailing his odyssey around the island of Ireland – he estimates he logged up close to 180,000km over the five-and-a-half years of golf tripping – in playing and describing each of the courses, with “320 Shades of Greens – an Irish Golfer’s Passion” being the fruit of such labours.

Smyth got family members and friends to accompany him on his golfing travels around Ireland where he primarily played in open days or paid green fees, although he tells the tale of meeting Boyzone singer Keith Duffy in a bar after playing a round at Kenmare and describing to him his plan to write a book about Ireland’s golf courses.

In true “hey buddy” fashion, Duffy quickly arranged for Smyth to play the Old Head the next day and also got him on to a team playing a Charlie Chaplin am-am event in Waterville. The last golf course that Smyth played was, in fact, Hogs Head in Co Kerry. Smyth’s book is available for purchase on and is an impressive guide to Ireland’s 18 holes courses.

Word of Mouth

“I thought I was invincible coming out here as a 22-year-old, winning as a rookie, played three days hungover when I won. Best thing and worst thing that ever happened to me was winning my rookie year but also feeling like I was invincible. It took me a long time to get to this point. That was seven years ago, over seven years ago. I’m a different man now. I would not be in this position right now today if I didn’t put that drink down eight months ago” – Grayson Murray, winner of the Sony Open, on his battle with alcohol and being sober for eight months.

By the Numbers


Hideki Matsuyama’s long stint in the world’s top-50 came to an end following his tied-30th place finish in the Sony Open. Matsuyama – a one-time number two in the official rankings – has slipped down to 52nd, the first time he has been outside the top-50 since first breaking in back in June 2013 (hat tip Nosferatu @VC606)

On this day ... January 16th, 1972

Jack Nicklaus became the central character in the drama of the Bing Crosby pro-am at Pebble Beach, where the Golden Bear – who holed an 18-footer for birdie on the first hole of sudden death – eclipsed Johnny Miller.

Others floundered. Tony Jacklin’s bid for glory ran aground on the 18th where he hit his drive left into the rocks of the Pacific Ocean and never found his ball, while Lee Trevino was also guilty of a wayward shot into the sea.

Having started the final round a shot behind Miller, Nicklaus carded a closing 73 for a total of 284 while the young pretender Miller signed for a 74. Trevino, who had run up a seven on the sixth hole after hitting a ball into the water, finished third on 286 while Jacklin closed with a seven on the final hole for a total of 288 where finishers also included Bobby Murphy, who had an albatross on the second.

Nicklaus reserved his share of the drama for the playoff, where he closed the deal with a birdie for a pay-day of $28,000 in what was his 39th career win on the PGA Tour. It gave him a fifth victory in six starts, dating back to his finish of the 1971 season where he closed out with a victory in the Walt Disney and then headed to Australia where he also managed two successes.

X-Twitter Twaddle

What were the DP World Tour thinking when they agreed to give Ken Weyand an invite this week in Dubai? 87 82 82 86 – 53 over par must be a new record. Sponsors have the last word but seriously ... have a thought for the 1st reserve and his playing partners! – former tour player Mark Mouland not impressed at all with how the American country club pro performed.

I’ve enjoyed my time here in Hawaii @TheSentry & @TheSonyOpenHawaii have been brilliant. Back to mainland (USA) to pay Amex – Matt Wallace, the Englishman is reaping the benefits of his breakthrough PGA Tour win (in the Dominican Republic last season) which has given him improved status and stronger schedule.

Winning is hard. Thanks to everyone who is by my side every step of the way. This one in front of my family and friends here in Dubai means so much to me!! – Tommy Fleetwood, a resident of the UAE, on his win in the Dubai Invitational.

Know the Rules


In matchplay, a player marks the position of their ball on the putting green, lifts the ball and sets it aside. By mistake, they putt the ball from where it was set aside. What is the ruling?


The player loses the hole. Such a situation is covered under Clarification 14.4/1 and Rule 6.3c: the ball was lifted and set aside without the intent for it to be put back in play. When the player made a stroke at the all which was out of play, they played a wrong ball and the penalty in matchplay is loss of hole.

In the Bag

Tommy Fleetwood – Dubai Invitational

Driver – TaylorMade Qi10LS (9 degrees)

2-wood – TaylorMade BRNR mini driver (13.5 degrees)

5-wood – TaylorMade Qi10 (18 degrees)

Utility – TaylorMade Stealth UDI

Irons – TaylorMade P7TW (3-PW)

Wedges – TaylorMade Grind 3 High-Toe (52 and 56 degrees)

Putter – Odyssey White Hot Pro 3