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Leona leads Irish bid for British amateur glory


Ireland's Leona Maguire

Ireland's Leona Maguire


Ireland's Leona Maguire

World No 1 Leona Maguire starts her bid for Ladies' British Open Amateur Championship glory at Portstewart today.

The supremely-talented 20-year-old, who plays out of Slieve Russell, heads up a strong field for the 112th edition of the Championship.

Maguire, a student at Duke University in North Carolina, was on top of the world last month after she won the NCAA South Bend Regional tournament.

It was her second consecutive victory in American collegiate golf and her third this season in total.

The former Curtis Cup star also leads a 10-strong Irish contingent, which includes twin sister Lisa - who like Leona opted for a golf scholarship in the United States instead of pursuing a professional career at this time.

Also competing is Banbridge is teenager Olivia Mehaffey who stormed to victory at the Scottish Open Amateur strokeplay championship at Royal Troon back in April in what was the Royal County Down player's first senior international event.

That success was part of an unprecedented treble which included the Irish girls title and the Welsh Open stroke-play.

The trio will be joined by Jessica Carty (Holywood), Maria Dunne (Skerries), Paula Grant (Lisburn), Julie McCarthy (Forrest Little), Jessica Ross (Donaghadee), Chloe Ryan (Castletroy) and Sinead Sexton (Lahinch).

Two stroke-play qualifying rounds today and tomorrow will reduce the 139 field to 64 competitors for the sudden-death match play stages, before the 18-hole final on Saturday afternoon.

Irish Independent