“It is an absolutely fantastic victory,” a delighted Breda Maguire enthused as she describes her daughter Leona’s remarkable achievement in claiming her first professional golf win at The Windsor Classic, Sonoma County, California.
The Ballyconnell star fired a final round of seven under par 65 to climb to the top of the leader board at the end of play, but opponent Pajaree Anannarukarn birdied the 18th to force a playoff.
That playoff allowed Leona to showcase all her talent and coolness to win an historic victory. Leona has the skill and pedigree to go to the pinnacle of the women's game and become the first Irish lady golfing 'superstar'.
Turning professional last June, the golfer said “the dream is to be the best player in the world”, and that dream is becoming a reality.
For the win, the Cavan golfer claimed the $22,500 winner’s share of the $150,000 total purse and has jumped to number one on the Symetra Tour Volvik Race for Card standings.
Leona returned to Cavan yesterday (Thursday) for a two-week break. A homecoming celebration is now planned for the Slieve Russell Golf Club next Wednesday evening at 7:30pm when well wishers can turn out to pass on their congratulations.
Tournaments in Morocco and Dubai are next and twin sister Lisa will be joining her in the United Arab Emirates. Leona, who left Ireland in early February for Dubai to get some practice in ahead of the 2019 season, has now been 10 weeks on the road.
Following her stint in the Middle East, she spent four weeks in Australia competing on the LPGA Tour and Ladies European Tour (LET). That was followed by five weeks and four tournaments in the United States on the Symetra Tour.
After the victory, Leona took a quick Facetime call from her Gold management team, Niall Horan and Mark McDonnell. Horan took to Twitter to heap praise on the Ballyconnell star: “This girl is an absolute superstar and cannot wait to see what her future holds.”
Also extending his praise was Padraig Harrington: “Congrats Leona Maguire on your maiden victory, first of many. And the first is special. So make sure you celebrate.”
Commenting after her win Leona said: “I knew the way the course was set up today – the green's a bit softer and I left a lot of chances out there yesterday. I chipped in on the first for a birdie, which kick started my round, then I holed a few nice putts to keep the momentum going. The way the greens and pins were, I knew I had to go low to catch Pajaree - everyone was going to make birdies.
“I suppose being so close last week gave me a little bit extra motivation and it tastes a little sweeter today,” enthused Leona.
That excitement was echoed by her mother. “Leona was absolutely delighted. She came very close the week before. She was very patient and knew it was on the horizon,” Breda told the Celt.