Entering Saturday’s final round of the LPGA Drive On Championship, never in the LPGA Tour’s 71-year history had an Irish woman claimed victory. Now, the history book tells a different story.
After knocking on the door several times in the 2021 season, Leona Maguire is officially an LPGA Champion. The Cavan native put on a dazzling display at the 54-hole LPGA Drive On Championship, finishing at -18 overall to claim her first LPGA tournament title in impressive fashion.
“It’s a bit surreal,” Maguire said of her first LPGA victory. “It’s been 17 years in the making. You kind of wonder if it’s ever going to happen, but I’m really proud of how I played all week, especially today. Dermot (Leona’s caddie) was incredible on the bag, keeping me calm all week. I have a lot of people to thank and it’s been a long road, but it’s probably more of a relief now than anything else.”
Entering the final round tied for the lead at -13, Leona weathered the storm through the first six holes before going on a blistering run over the next 10 holes. Relentlessly attacking pins and holing putts, Leona carded six birdies, highlighted by a stretch of five birdies in seven holes, to take a five-shot lead at -19 under par. Leona cruised through the last two holes, calmly tapping in on 18 to lock up a three-shot victory.
“I think staying patient,” Maguire noted as a key to her victory. “I felt like I did a really good job of that this week. I knew my game was close and did a lot of hard work in the offseason, and finally got there in the end.”
While Maguire noted that the win may be a relief more than anything else, the impact it will have back home in Ireland cannot be overstated. The country has a rich passion for the sport, and Maguire hopes that today’s result can serve as an inspiration for young girls that want to follow in her footsteps.
“It’s huge for Irish golf. There was never an Irish player on the Tour, let alone a winner. Hopefully there are a lot of people watching at home tonight with big smiles on their faces and little girls watching hoping that they one day can hole a (winning) putt like that, too.”
Leona on a week she’ll never forget
Listen as Leona Maguire speaks about an unforgettable week and making Irish history.