Leona Maguire tops the poll in our Young Sportstar of the Year award
Published 17/12/2015 | 02:30
Golfing prodigy Leona Maguire, the top female amateur golfer on the planet, was last night hailed as the Irish Independent Young Sportstar of the Year, in association with The Croke Park Hotel.
Leona, 21, has enjoyed a stellar 2015 as she enhanced her already impressive reputation on the national and international women's scene.
In July, she came within one shot of emulating Shane Lowry's feat and winning a professional tournament as an amateur player.
The event was the ISPS Handa Ladies European Masters, and winner Beth Allen was relieved to finish the tournament with a shot to spare on Leona, whose 277 total was 11-under par.
Had she been a professional, the runner-up prize would have been worth around €50,000 but the confidence gained from playing so well amongst the Ladies European Tour stars augurs well for the future.
She was also the leading amateur in the Evian Championship, which is the fifth Major on the women's professional circuit.
Leona and her equally talented twin sister Lisa are in their sophomore year at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. The first campaign, 2014-'15, was very successful.
Among the awards Leona won were the Mark H McCormack Medal as World number one, the ANNIKA Award for National Player of the Year, and the Women's Golf Coaches Association Player of the Year.
She has won four titles on the very competitive US collegiate circuit, and on the international scene, competed for Ireland in the European Team Championships.
Leona also played for GB & Ireland against the Continent of Europe in the Vagliano Cup
The Europeans got the match verdict by one point, but Leona was unbeaten in her four contests.
The Maguire twins began to emerge on the ILGU scene almost ten years ago and their dedication and ability have made them formidable performers.
They were much younger than most of the opposition at national and international level in their early teens, but they enjoyed an impressive level of success in Girls' and Women's events.
They both played in the 2010 Curtis Cup team, becoming the youngest GB & Ireland competitors in the history of the prestigious event. Leona is a winner of 20 amateur titles and Lisa, the former European Masters, Spanish Ladies and European Amateur champion, is not far behind her in that respect.
Leona went on to play in the winning 2012 Curtis Cup side, and next June, she will hope to emulate that feat when the match is played at Dun Laoghaire GC.
She is also likely to be confirmed on the Irish Olympics golf team.