Leona Maguire proves she is a class apart
Ballyconnell girl Leona Maguire has shown the world that she is a class golfer with her sensational Solheim Cup performances in Ohio where, over the weekend, the rookie became the big story of the competition.
Yesterday, on day two of the tournament, the cool, calm and collected Leona went out with Mel Reid in the afternoon and grabbed a halved match at the death to give Europe a 9-7 lead heading into today’s 12 singles.
Teeing off shortly on the third and final day, Leona is due to face former college rival Jennifer Kupcho at No.3. A victory would make her the most successful Solheim Cup wild card of all time.
Leona has carried herself with incredible distinction in this prestigious Solheim Cup competition and, at times, looks like the Captain of the team with her inspirational putts.
Leona won three-and-a-half points out of four on her debut at Inverness Club.
Even before she strolled out with Reid against Jennifer Kupcho and Lizette Salas looking to extend her record, the Ballyconnell girl had showcased her killer instinct and must have caused concern in the ranks of the US team.
After taking down world No.1 Nelly Korda and her sister Jessica on the 18th in the opening foursomes on Saturday, then beating Yealimi Noh and Brittany Altomare alongside Georgia Hall again on the 18th in the fourballs, she teamed up with Reid again to hammer Nelly Korda and Ally Ewing 5&4 in yesterday morning's foursomes, where they made four birdies in the first five holes to go four up en route to Europe's only point of the morning.
It was far tougher in the afternoon and, while Maguire birdied the first to put them one up, Salas and Kupcho were two up after 11 and one up with four to play before the Europeans battled back.
After winning the 15th to get back all square, Maguire holed a 15 footer for a half in birdies at the 16th only to see Kupcho chip in at the 17th to give the Americans a one-up lead.
This time it was Reid who came to the rescue as her eight iron from 136 yards got a fortunate kick to four feet before she rolled in the putt for birdie and a halved match that felt like a win.
“We knew we were going to have to play some really good golf to come away with any sort of points,” Leona admitted.
“But we holed some putts at the right time to sort of answer them back, which was nice, and yeah, that half almost feels like a win right now.”
Reid was happy to hit such a clutch shot but she again paid tribute to her partner.
“Leona again played awesome,” Reid said. “I'm just so impressed with this girl... I didn't have my best stuff today, but to pull off that shot on 18, I feel like I contributed.”
Maguire is the only player on either side to play four matches and she admitted she was somewhat surprised.
“A little surprised, I guess, but I've been playing well,” she said. “That's what the captain wanted me to do, so here to win every single point I can for the team, and yeah, one more day to try and do that again tomorrow.”
Clearly unfazed by the situation, she added: “You never know how you're going to react in these situations until you're put in them. This is what you practice for. This is what you prepare for. I love team golf. I love match play."
Leading by three points after day one and by two points heading into the singles, European skipper Matthew was more than pleased with the scoreline and pleased too that her great pairing of Reid and Maguire had worked out so well.
As for the singles, she’s confident.
Monday Singles (Irish time)
5:05pm Anna Nordqvist v Lexi Thompson
5:15pm Madelene Sagstrom v Ally Ewing
5:25pm Leona Maguire v Jennifer Kupcho
5:35pm Georgia Hall v Nelly Korda
5:45pm Celine Boutier v Mina Harigae
5:55pm Nanna Koerstz Madsen v Austin Ernst
6:05pm Matilda Castren v Lizette Salas
6:15pm Carlota Ciganda v Brittany Altomare
6:25pm Sophia Popov v Megan Khang
6:35pm Mel Reid v Yealimi Noh
6:45pm Charley Hull v Jessica Korda
6:55pm Emily Pedersen v Danielle Kang