Leona Maguire looking forward to getting back into the swing of things

Gainbridge LPGA event will be the first of 11 tournaments for the busy Cavan native leading up to the US Open at Pine Needles

The next phase of the journey might officially start with her first tee shot of the Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Rio in Florida on Thursday, her season-opening event.

But for Leona Maguire work has been ongoing through the off-season; firstly in her Christmas break at home with the family in Cavan, which also gave her the opportunity to connect with coach Shane O'Grady; and more recently fine-tuning things, on the range and out on the course, at her USA base at Lake Nona in Florida.

So, for the star of Europe's Solheim Cup win over the United States last year, the campaign gets under way with a sense of excitement and expectation in the knowledge that she can pencil in a schedule that will actually see her play in all 11 tournaments from this week's start at the Gainbridge up to the US Open at Pine Needles in June.

That itinerary will take Maguire on a crisscrossing of time zones, with events in America, Singapore, Thailand and back to the USA for the first half of the season.


But, now up to 40th in the Rolex world rankings, she can undertake an improved schedule which includes all five Majors this season along with those trips to Asia for the HSBC World Championship in Singapore and the Honda LPGA in Thailand.

However, the structuring of the schedule, with breaks in between stretches of events, will enable Maguire to take in each tour stop right up to that US Open, a venue not far from where she attended Duke University in North Carolina.

Maguire – speaking in a conference call confirming KPMG’s extension of the company’s sponsorship of the golfer for a further four years – heads into the new season looking to follow up a marvellous 2021 campaign which only lacked for an individual win.

“It’s all about making improvements. Success is relative. Everyone’s journey is very different. It’s very easy to compare yourself to people you graduated with or grew up with, the Nellys, the Lydias, people like that . . . . ultimately it’s my own journey,” she said.

“All I can be is be better than I was yesterday, better than I was last year. That’s success for me. I didn’t win in 2021 but I felt it was my most successful year because I committed to the changes I made and executed them when I needed to for the most part. For me, that was a big success.

“[With] winning, there’s a lot of factors involved. A lot of other people involved. Some things I can control. Success for me is executing, it’s what I need to do myself. The external results is just a byproduct. . . I’ve some goals written down, a lot of them are more based on practice and stuff like that and not outcome goals.

Primary focus

“There’s not anything on there about winning tournaments or winning Majors or anything like that. That’s stuff that’s outside my control. If that happens, fantastic; but that won’t be the primary focus of my goals, it never has been. I’ve never been someone to focus on rankings or winning, so it is more on my preparation and things like that that ultimately will hopefully lead to those things.”

Maguire's arrival onto the LPGA Tour has coincided with a marked upward shift in prizemoney. This year's US Open will have an €8.8 million ($10m) purse, while the AIG Women's Open will offer a €5.75m ($6.5m) prize fund.

"I think it has been trending in the right direction for a while," said Maguire, adding: "It is not just about the money, it is also the venues the USGA has pledged for the next 10 years as have KPMG with the Women's PGA Championship. if you look at some of the venues we are going to this year, going to Congressional, going to Muirfield, they are venues just 10 years ago we would never have dreamed of going to . . . and we are going to Pebble Beach next year, they are iconic venues we grew up watching the lads play."

So it is that Maguire will get up and running at the Gainbridge, the first of two tournaments she will play in Florida.

“We are not full flow into the season yet. There are still a few things that are works-in-progress, so I’ll just take these two weeks as learning weeks and see where I am at and what needs to be tweaked heading into the break because we have three weeks off before Singapore and Thailand.

“There will be a little bit of rust there I would imagine but, at the same time, it’s nice to go back to a venue that I know. We played two years ago in Boca Rio. That was my first event of my first rookie year I guess before the whole world shut down. So it’s nice to be going back and nice to see where my game is at compared to where it was two years ago at the same venue.”

Philip Reid

Philip Reid

Philip Reid is Golf Correspondent of The Irish Times