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Leona Maguire: 'I think we're learning now who the real heroes are and they are not sportspeople like me'

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Irish golfer Leona Maguire. Photo: Conor McCabe Photography

Irish golfer Leona Maguire. Photo: Conor McCabe Photography

Irish golfer Leona Maguire. Photo: Conor McCabe Photography

In the midst of having her first year on the LPGA tour thrown into turmoil, Leona Maguire wants her sport, and others, to think of the real heroes in the battle against the coronavirus.

She's suggesting that when international sport finally finds its legs again that medical staff and first responders should be treated well, in terms of corporate hospitality and tickets.

"I think we're learning now who the real heroes are," said Davy brand ambassador Maguire yesterday, "and they are not sportspeople like me. I know that the next time I miss a three-foot putt I'm not going to beat myself up over it.

"There are people all around the world today with much bigger problems than a missed putt will ever be. And maybe we could look after those doctors and nurses very well when times change. The people running and sponsoring golf tournaments, and other sports, could look at that."

It might be a while though, before that could happen.

"The LPGA have told us there's a tournament on in Tampa, Florida, in May and that's what I'm working towards until I hear otherwise. Of course there has to be a doubt about it going ahead."

But unlike GAA, horse racing or the League of Ireland, all of which can resume as soon as the Irish Government gives the OK, international sport needs people to be able to cross borders freely.

"Visas are a huge issue for professional golfers. I have to be sure that, as an Irish citizen, I can get past passport control at a country's border," says the 25-year-old.

For now, Maguire has gone back to the future at home in Cavan.

"My brother is doing the Leaving Cert this year, and it is like six years ago when I did it. Dad has got a few driving nets down from the attic and we've rolled out the putting mats and I'm practising away just like I used to try and do a bit while studying for the Leaving.

"There is a field out the back of the house, where I can hit a seven iron or less, walk up the field, collect the balls, and do it all over again."

She has also been in regular contact with Niall Horan, whose management company, Modest!, Maguire is signed up with.

"When I was getting ready to head back to the States, (when all this started) he was in LA and so I was chatting to him about what the situation was," Maguire added.

"We were supposed to play events in Arizona, San Diego and Palm Springs which weren't all that far from where he was. But he was one of the ones who advised me to stay put in Ireland.

"He was heading home to London. Everything's on hold for him now too. He's a big golfer so he's missing being out on the course. He plays off about seven. I played with him in pro-am in Galgorm Castle last August. He's handy enough and loves his golf all right."

With a fourth-place finish at the Vic Open in Australia in January already on her first-year card, Maguire was up and running well in her debut season.

Now she waits patiently, hitting balls in that field in Cavan, for that season to resume.

Irish Independent