Posts Tagged ‘Leona Maguire’

Excited Grant joins Mehaffey on GB&I Curtis Cup team for Quaker Ridge clash

April 27, 2018

Paula Grant in action at County Louth Golf Club.
Image by Jenny Matthews (

Ulster and Ireland amateur stars Olivia Mehaffey (RCDL) and Paula Grant (Lisburn) have been included in the GB&I team to face the United States in the 40th Curtis Cup match which will be played at Quaker Ridge, New York from 8-10 June.
GB&I will defend the historic trophy after securing an 11½-8½ win over the United States at Dun Laoghaire two years ago.
Paula Grant is a former R&A Foundation scholar and last year she won the Irish Women’s Close Championship for the second time in five years following her success in the event in 2013.

“I’m so excited and can’t wait to get over there,” said Paula who led the qualifiers after the stroke play stage of the 2017 Ladies British Open Amateur Championship at Pyle & Kenfig.

“I made a decision a year or so ago to put more time into my golf and I’ve worked hard with the ILGU coaches and my own coach at Lisburn, Stephen Hamill, it’s nice to get the rewards.”

The 24-year-old optometrist admitted that watching her Irish international contemporaries Maria Dunne, Leona Maguire and Olivia Mehaffey competing at recent Curtis Cups had provided extra incentive.
“I was on the fringes of selection four years ago but I probably wasn’t ready,” she added.
“When I saw how well Maria, Leona and Olivia have played in recent Curtis Cup matches I really started to believe that I could compete at that level as well.”
Olivia and Alice Hewson will be making their second appearances for GB&I in the Curtis Cup after featuring on the winning side at Dun Laoghaire in 2016.
In 2016 Olivia won the Irish Women’s Open Stroke Play Championship and Welsh Ladies Open Stroke Play Championship.
This year, she finished tied first in the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge, her first collegiate tournament representing Arizona State University, and has been selected for the International Team to play against the United States in the Palmer Cup at Evian, France in July.

Elaine Farquharson-Black, who will captain GB&I in the Curtis Cup for the second time, said, “There have been a number of players throughout Great Britain and Ireland who have been in impressive form recently and it was a difficult decision to select only eight.
“The players selected will now have a wonderful opportunity to perform on the international stage in one of the world’s most prestigious events and I’m sure that they will give their very best as we attempt to retain the trophy against a talented team from the United States.”
Ireland’s Leona Maguire, currently the number two golfer in the Women’s Amateur golf rankings will turn professional next month and has ruled herself out of contention for selection.
The non-travelling reserve is another Ulster player, Lurgan’s Annabel Wilson.


Paula Grant leads Irish contingent in Scotland with Curtis Cup selection looming

April 20, 2018

Paula Grant (Lisburn)
Picture by Pat Cashman

Leona Maguire won’t be featuring for GB&I in the Curtis Cup this year but Lisburn’s Paula Grant is hoping to nail down a place in the team at this week’s Helen Holm Scottish Women’s Open Championship in Troon (April 20-22).
The GB&I side to face the USA at Quaker Rider GC (June 8-10) will be named on April 26 so this is the last chance for Paula to impress the selectors and earn her spot on the team alongside Olivia Mehaffey (RCDL) who will get the nod courtesy of her world ranking.
A qualified optometrist, Paula is somehow managing to juggle her work commitments with competing at elite level. Already this year the 24-year-old has played in the South American Amateur Championship in Argentina finishing runner-up in a star-studded field.
That was followed by a trip to Portugal for the International Championship and in the worst of the weather, she finished 13th. The weather wasn’t much better during the Spanish Open when she tied seventh in qualifying before losing out in the match play stages to the eventual winner.
“I suppose the fact that the girl who beat me went on to win the title was something but it would have been nice to have done better,” said the reigning Irish Strokeplay champion.
Last month, Paula was on her travels again as she competed for Europe against Asia Pacific in the Patsy Hankins Trophy at Doha Golf Club. Europe were comprehensively beaten but the Curtis Cup selectors watched on as Paula won her singles match. However, Paula isn’t putting much store by that performance.

She continued; “There are a lot of good players out there, all with strong claims for selection. It really would be fantastic if I did get into the team but I can’t afford to just concentrate on that goal. I must keep playing as well as I can and let my form do the trick.”

The Helen Holm Trophy will consist of 54 holes of stroke play contested over three days with 18 holes played on each day. The top 66 players and ties returning the lowest scores after two rounds will qualify for the final round.
Twelve Irish players have travelled to Royal Troon to compete at the event – Ciara Casey (Hermitage/MU), Clodagh Walsh (Castlewarden/MU), Emma Forbes (Royal Portrush), Kate Dwyer (Rossmore), Lauren Walsh (Castlewarden), Lucy Simpson (Masserene), Maura Diamond (Royal Portrush), Meadhbh Doyle (Portarlington/MU), Paula Grant (Lisburn), Sara Byrne (Douglas), Shannon Burke (Ballinrobe), Valerie Clancy (Killarney).

Info courtesy of Tony McGee

Paul Dunne, Leona Maguire and Paul McBride collect Irish Golf Writers’ Awards

December 27, 2017

Paul Dunne, the 25-year-old Greystones player, received the “Professional of the Year” award from the Irish Golf Writers’ Association at the annual awards, sponsored by Allianz, held at Portmarnock Hotel and Golf Links.
Dunne enjoyed a breakthrough year in just his second full season on tour with victory in the British Masters at Close House in England in October, where his chip-in on the 72nd hole – voted as the PGA European Tour’s shot of the month – gave him a closing round 61 for a total of 20-under-par 260, three shots clear of runner-up Rory McIlroy.
In a season where he jumped from 275th in the official world rankings up to a current position of 76th, Dunne – who had five top-10 finishes, including the win in the British Masters and a runner-up to Edoardo Molinari in the Hassan Trophy –  finished 16th in the final Race to Dubai standings with prize money of €1.7 million.
Leona Maguire, the world number one ranked amateur player, earned the “Women’s Amateur of the Year” award after a standout season in which the 23-year-old from Co. Cavan won the British Ladies Amateur Championship at Pyle & Kenfig in Wales. Maguire beat Spain’s Ainhoa Olarra 3 and 2 in the final.

Maguire, a student at Duke University in the United States, was also the dominant player on the US collegiate circuit with five victories in the calendar year – the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge, the LSU Tiger Classic, the ACC Championship, the Jim West Challenge and the Ruth’s Chris Tar Heel Invite – where she was named WGCA Player of the Year.
Paul McBride, a member of The Island Golf Club and a student at Wake Forest University in North Carolina, was the sole Irish representative on the Great Britain and Ireland team which was defeated by the United States in the Walker Cup.

McBride, 22, reached the quarter-final of the British Amateur championship and made the cut playing in the Porsche European Open on the PGA European Tour. The top-ranked Irish men’s player in the amateur world rankings – currently ranked 41st – McBride played a critical role in Ireland retaining the Home Internationals where he was unbeaten and won four and a half points from five matches.
Gavin Caldwell, the former captain of the R&A, and Michael Moss, the retired general manager of Portstewart Golf Club which played host to the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, received “Distinguished Services to Golf” awards.

Driven Mehaffey targets Curtis Cup and NCAA Championship double in 2018

December 19, 2017

Olivia Mehaffey in action with ASU

Christmas, a time to relax and unwind unless, that is, you’re Olivia Mehaffey (RCDL).
The 20-year-old Irish international hasn’t stopped since flying back home from the US where she is in the second year of a golf scholarship at Arizona State University.
Olivia is in full prep mode, planning for a 2018 that she hopes will include a successful defence of the Curtis Cup with GB&I and the NCAA Championship title with her college teammates.
The Banbridge golfer was recently named on the 14-player provisional GB&I squad along with three other Irish internationals, Paula Grant (Lisburn), Annabel Wilson (Lurgan) and the leading amateur player in the world, Leona Maguire (Slieve Russell).
“I think we will have a really strong team this year,” said Olivia who is currently ranked 13th in the world.
The 40th Curtis Cup match will be played from 8-10 June next year at Quaker Ridge Golf Club in New York. GB&I will be attempting to retain the title after an 11½-8½ win over the US at Dun Laoghaire GC, Co Wicklow in 2016.
In preparation, six potential GB&I team members, including Olivia, Leona and Annabel, met up at the venue last month for a bit of reconnaissance.
“It was really nice to get out there and play the course. It means that whoever gets picked on the team has that bit of knowledge which will certainly help,” added Olivia who won 3.5 points on her Curtis Cup debut at Dun Laoghaire.
“It was a typical parkland with greens that were very quick and had plenty of slope.”
The eight-player team will be announced on April 26 next year. The two leading players on the world rankings will automatically make the team, with six players selected by the R&A’s women’s selection committee.

Given her impressive individual matchplay record – she won three out of three to help Arizona win the NCAA title last May – it would be something of a shock not to see Olivia make the team but she’s not taking anything for granted which is why she was at Carton House last week working with coach Donal Scott.
“The game is good. I’m very happy with how I played this semester, I’m just making a few changes,” added the sociology student.
“I’m working on some new stuff now to get ready for next year.”
Arizona will be defending their title without the experienced Monica Vaughan, who graduated in the summer and Linnea Strom who will turn professional early next year. It’s likely to mean that, as the top-ranked player on the team, more responsibility will fall on Olivia’s shoulders.
She added; “I see myself as a bit of a leader and I think it is a good opportunity to embrace that role.
“I love playing first in match play. It’s about getting out there and getting some early points on the board. It’s something that I thrive on a bit.
“Losing Monica and Linnea is a big hit because they are both top 10 in the world. We will have to step up as a group. We still have a really great team. Four of the squad remain from last year. It’s exciting, we’ll see what happens.”

Magical Maguire claims Ladies British Amateur Championship title

June 18, 2017

Leona Maguire with the Ladies’ British Open Amateur Championship trophy and the Pam Barton Memorial Salver

Leona Maguire cemented her place at the top of the amateur world rankings with victory in the 114th Ladies’ British Open Amateur Championship at Pyle & Kenfig.
The 22-year-old beat Spain’s Ainhoa Olarra 3&2 in the 18-hole final on the South Wales coast to seal the biggest amateur win of her career.
The Duke University student will now take her place in US Women’s Open next month and the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Kingsbarns, near St Andrews, in August.
The Irish international follows in the footsteps of Stephanie Meadow, who defeated Spain’s Rocio Sanchez Lobato 4&3 at Carnoustie in 2012. Both Leona and Stephanie represented Ireland at the Rio Olympics in 2016.
“It’s been a fantastic week and I’ve played some really great golf. It’s a real highlight of my career to have won the championship,” said Leona.
“It’s one of the biggest amateur events and one that I felt I hadn’t given as good a go as I could have done in the past few years. It’s great to get my name on the trophy alongside some of the biggest names.

“Ainhoa played really great golf and she pushed me all the way to the end. I knew I was going to have to play well. She threw all the birdies she could at me and I was glad I was able to rise to it.”

Leona made a flying start after dispatching a birdie opportunity on the first but the match returned to all-square on the following hole, Olarra saving par while Maguire struggled with a bogey.
Maguire found herself behind, remarkably for the first time in the championship’s entire match play stage, after Olarra, who won the Spanish Amateur Championship in 2013, picked up a birdie on the third to move 1 up.The South Carolina University scholar saw her lead pulled back immediately when Maguire fought back with a birdie to win the fourth and was powerless to stop the Curtis Cup representative regaining control of the contest on the fifth after she rolled in a birdie on the par-five to take a one hole advantage.

Maguire, who recently won the Annika Award for the second time in her career, strengthened her position even further after winning the seventh and ninth to go three up but Olarra reduced the deficit at the 10th.
Nevertheless, the three-hole gap was restored on the 11th when the two-time McCormack Medal winner notched up her fifth birdie of the round and the Duke University student remained steady with a par on the 12th to go four up after her Spanish opponent could only manage a bogey.
Olarra refused to throw in the towel and the youngster from San Sabastian halted Maguire’s momentum by winning two of the next three holes, producing a vital birdie on the 15th.
The match was decided on the following hole, however. Olarra had struggled with her putting throughout the match and a bogey on the 16th left Maguire with a par putt to win the championship which she duly rolled in for a 3&2 victory.
In the morning’s semi-finals, Maguire defeated Finland’s Anna Backman 3&2 to secure her passage to the final. Olarra closed out her match with Norway’s Stina Resen on the par-three 15th, rolling in a birdie putt to seal a 4&3 win.
Maguire’s win capped an excellent Championship for Ireland which saw Paula Grant (Lisburn) to lead qualifying. Five Irish players made it through to the match-play stages.

Leona Maguire puts professional career on hold to complete University degree

November 23, 2016
Leona Maguire was presented with the 2016 Mark H McCormack Medal by current world number one and three-time winnner of the medal Lydia Ko ahead of the women's Olympic Golf event at Rio 2016

Leona Maguire was presented with the 2016 Mark H McCormack Medal by current world number one and three-time winnner of the medal Lydia Ko ahead of the women’s Olympic Golf event at Rio 2016

Leona Maguire’s decision to turn her back on professional golf – at least in the short term – has been broadly welcomed with Paul McGinley and Catriona Matthew amongst the vocal supporters on social media.
The current world number one ranked amateur had cruised through LPGA Qualifying School Stage II in October but rather than go on to Qualifying Stage III in Florida next week, Leona has decided to remain an amateur and complete her studies at Duke University.

In a statement, the 21-year-old from Co Cavan said; “Upon considerable deliberation, I have decided to withdraw from stage III of LPGA Q-school and not pursue LPGA membership for 2017.
“This is not a decision that I have taken lightly but one that I feel is best for me in the pursuit of my long-term aspirations.
“I am thankful for the continuous support of my parents, friends, teammates, Coach Shane O Grady, ILGU and everyone at Duke and for their guidance in helping me to reach my decision.”

In June, Leona played a key role in GB&I’s Curtis Cup victory against the USA at Dun Laoghaire GC and more recently, she helped Ireland capture an historic bronze medal at the World Amateur Team Championships alongside Olivia Mehaffey and Annabel Wilson.
She added;“My dream is and always has been to compete alongside the world’s best on the LPGA and this remains resolutely unchanged.

“It is my intention to turn professional after graduation in May 2018 and I look forward to enjoying many more unforgettable experiences representing Duke, Ireland and myself as an amateur golfer until then.”

The summer also saw Leona represent Ireland at the Olympics where she finished tied for 21st and claim the Smyth Salver Trophy after finishing the RICOH Women’s British Open as the top ranked amateur.
Leona is studying Psychology, Business and Accounting at Duke.

Leona Maguire receives Mark H McCormack Medal boost ahead of Rio medal bid

August 17, 2016
Leona Maguire was presented with the 2016 Mark H McCormack Medal by current world number one and three-time winnner of the medal Lydia Ko ahead of the women's Olympic Golf event at Rio 2016 today.

Leona Maguire was presented with the 2016 Mark H McCormack Medal by current world number one and three-time winnner of the medal Lydia Ko ahead of the women’s Olympic Golf event at Rio 2016 today.

Leona Maguire has won the Mark H McCormack Medal for the second consecutive year as the leading women’s player in the 2016 World Amateur Golf Ranking.
Maguire will compete for Ireland in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games this week alongside Stephanie Meadow and speaking from Brazil she said she was delighted to win the prestigious medal once again.
“It is a huge honour for me to win the Mark H McCormack medal again this year,” said Maguire.
“I am incredibly grateful to my family, my coach Shane O’Grady, the Irish Ladies Golf Union and the Confederation of Golf in Ireland and everyone at Duke University. Without their support and help this would not be possible.

“This year has been great for me so far and winning the McCormack Medal makes it even more special. I am so excited to compete and represent my country in the Olympics this week and earning the medal gives me extra confidence, given how strong amateur golf is right now, as I prepare for the event.”

The Cavan born golfer played a significant role in Great Britain & Ireland’s Curtis Cup win against the USA in June, contributing four points to the 11½-8½ victory.
Last month, she won the Smyth Salver after finishing as the leading amateur at the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Woburn, in a tie for 25th place, and also played in the U.S. Women’s Open at CordeValle.
Following the Olympic Games, in the autumn, Maguire will take part in Qualifying School for the LPGA Tour. As long as she remains an amateur she will receive an exemption into the Ricoh Women’s British Open and the U.S. Women’s Open in 2017.
Right now, her focus is on making a medal bid for Ireland.
“We’ve been to a bunch of events – hockey and swimming and saw Michael Phelps. So it’s just been really fun.” she said.

“It’s an amazing thing to be a part of and sort of just try to soak up the entire like Olympic atmosphere. I am really excited.  As a kid, I’ve been watching the Olympics every four years, so to actually be a part of it is incredible. It’s nice getting to play in the first group on Wednesday, so it will be great to get out there and be an Olympian.”

The R&A and United States Golf Association (USGA) award recognises Maguire’s outstanding performances this year and is named after Mark H McCormack, who founded sports marketing company IMG and was a great supporter of amateur golf.
Johnnie Cole-Hamilton, Executive Director – Championships at The R&A, said, “For Leona to win the Mark H McCormack Medal for a second year running is an outstanding achievement and I would like to congratulate her on another tremendous season. To consistently deliver excellent results over two years requires real dedication and commitment. She is a hugely talented golfer who is a worthy winner of the award.”

Stephanie Meadow never gave up hope of playing for Ireland at Rio Olympics

August 5, 2016
Stephanie Meadow

Stephanie Meadow

At first she was going, and then it looked like she would miss out, but golfer Stephanie Meadow never lost hope that she would represent Ireland at the Rio Olympics.
Having failed to make it via the automatic qualifying route, luck was on Stephanie’s side when the Dutch Olympic Committee withdrew their two competitors handing the 24-year-old a welcome reprieve.
“I was definitely disappointed when I missed out initially,” said the Co Antrim born golfer who now resides in America at Hilton Head Island.
“I kept looking at the rankings and I’d fall out and then be back in again. I kind of had a bit more hope than usual that I would get in as an alternative.
“People had been dropping out because of Zika and I heard the Netherland girls had some issues with their Federation so I kind of thought ‘it’s not over yet’ and I heard some more rumours about the Dutch girls and then I got the phone call from Paul McGinley which was great.”
Irish captain McGinley has been a constant source of information and reassurance for Stephanie during the bumpy process to Rio.
“I have been talking to him regularly for the best part of 18 months and we even played golf during the off season,” added Stephanie.
“He’s Paul McGinley, he loves team events, he so enthusiastic and excited and I think that has rubbed off on the rest of us.

“He gets everything done that needs to be done, he keeps us informed and he’s been really good about telling us what the course will be like in Rio and what we need to be practicing.”

On course it’s been a difficult season for Stephanie who hasn’t a full card on the LPGA and is mixing appearances on the second tier Symetra Tour, with Monday qualifying for LPGA events.
However, in recent months there has been signs of improvement and a return to the type of form that saw her finish third in the 2014 US Women’s Open.
It all means she’s heading to Rio on August the 12th with renewed confidence in her game and a determination to savour the experience – Zika risk and all.
“At the beginning Zika was blown out of proportion a little bit and people were freaking out but when you sit down and look at the facts it’s not as bad as it seems and you can take precautions and deal with it if it does happen,” added Stephanie.
“I’m going to stay in the Olympic Village – I never considered doing anything else – it should be a lot of fun.”
Padraig Harrington and Seamus Power will be representing Ireland in the men’s golf tournament from 11-14 August
Stephanie will jet into Rio on the 12th and will meet up with her team mate, Leona Maguire.
The women’s event runs from the 17-20 August.

Lisa Maguire bags Ulster Women’s title at Royal Belfast

May 25, 2016
Lisa Maguire with her mum Breda

Lisa Maguire with her mum Breda

Lisa Maguire (Slieve Russell GC) beat Aedin Murphy (Carlow GC) 3&1 to collect the Ulster Women’s Championship at Royal Belfast.
The 21-year-old, who has recently finished her second year of study at Duke University in America, won the second and third holes against Murphy in the final and never looked back.
She maintained her two hole advantage through nine holes and won the 12th to extend her lead to three. Murphy won the par three 14th to reduce the gap but Lisa eventually wrapped things up on the 17th.
“I won the Ulster Girls’ title previously so it was nice to get my hands on the Senior title,” said Lisa.
“It was really good. We played the British Girls’ at Royal Belfast a number of years ago so it was a course I felt very comfortable playing. It’s always good to get some competitive golf in during the summer so I was really happy with how the couple of days worked out.”
Lisa is planning a busy summer that will include playing in the British Amateur Championship and hopefully representing Ulster in the Inter provincials.
While it would seem that her twin-sister, Leona, currently representing Duke University in the NCAA Championships is destined for the professional ranks, Lisa’s path is less clear.
A psychology student with two years of her studies still to complete she is weighing up her next move.
“It’s always nice, especially over the winter to be able to play golf all year round,” she added
“It’s a good balance over there, school and golf. I will see how the next two years pan out, playing college golf and see where that takes me. I will make a decision after that I guess.”
Belvoir Park’s Ciara Brennan beat Lavinia Bowe (RCDL) to win the Junior Championship.

ILGU have created a winning environment that is paying dividends

April 14, 2016

2013 Irish Girl's Close Championship
Something is going very right with ladies amateur golf in Ireland.
Olivia Mehaffey’s recent victory in the Irish Women’s Open Strokeplay Championship propelled her into the top 10 of the World Amateur Golf rankings. (See the latest rankings here
The Scarva, Co Down teenager is ninth, while Co Cavan’s Leona Maguire continues to dominate the rankings after ascending to the number one spot in May of last year.
The rise of the likes of Leona and Olivia hasn’t happened by accident, the ILGU has worked very hard under High Performance manager David Kearney to get the right structures and personnel in place and it is clearly paying off.
Speaking on the NI Golf podcast, Johnny Foster, who started as the HP short game coach towards the end of last year, said that he had been impressed by the professional environment he had encountered on joining the HP team.
“They have put the notion of a winning culture out there and there is an emphasis on really good coaching and the girls have bought into it,” added Johnny.

“The coaches share ideas, there is a common push to develop everybody and the girls seem to love it. They have a great catchphrase – ‘Enjoy the game, beat the competition’.”

“They have this happy accident of talent, training, environment and now, they have traction because the girls are winning trophies. It’s very exciting.”
Olivia agreed, putting it more simply – “We are working with the best of the best,” she said.

Listen to Olivia and Johnny Foster on the very first – NI Golf podcast here –