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'She's very driven - always thinking about what she can do next' - Leona Maguire has sights set on No 1 ranking

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Ireland's Leona Maguire with the Solheim Cup after Europe's 15-13 win in Ohio

Ireland's Leona Maguire with the Solheim Cup after Europe's 15-13 win in Ohio

Ireland's Leona Maguire with the Solheim Cup after Europe's 15-13 win in Ohio

Leona Maguire has been destined for the top since she was a small girl but it’s only thanks to her incredible determination.

The Co Cavan star has been tipped for greatness since she and her sister Lisa became the youngest Curtis Cup players at 15 and she went on to become world amateur No 1 for a record 135 weeks.

Her coach, Shane O’Grady has seen her improve gradually over the years and sees her as a huge inspiration to a new generation of Irish golfers.

She’s ranked a career best 42nd in the world this week but she’s been aiming for No 1 since she hit the tour.

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Golfer and Solheim Cup hero Leona Maguire is welcomed home in an open top car through the streets of Ballyconnell Co Cavan before a reception after at the Slieve Russell Hotel. Photo by Steve Humphreys

Golfer and Solheim Cup hero Leona Maguire is welcomed home in an open top car through the streets of Ballyconnell Co Cavan before a reception after at the Slieve Russell Hotel. Photo by Steve Humphreys

Golfer and Solheim Cup hero Leona Maguire is welcomed home in an open top car through the streets of Ballyconnell Co Cavan before a reception after at the Slieve Russell Hotel. Photo by Steve Humphreys

“Niall Horan owns her management company and when Leona broke into the top 50 in the world at 47, he texted her a well done message,” her coach Shane O’Grady, the PGA professional at Black Bush, told the PGA this week.

“And she texted him back and said ‘only another 46 to go Niall’. She’s always thinking about what she can do next – very driven.

“A year ago our target was to finish as high as she can on the LPGA Tour money list. There’s about seven tournaments left and their tour championship final isn’t until late November, so there’s a lot still to play for. To finish high up on that list in her rookie year would be massive.

“She’s a very grounded and humble girl. She’ll make time for anyone, but from next Monday it’s back to work to prepare for her next tournament.

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“It’s been very enjoyable watching her success and it’s great to see something you’ve worked so hard at behind the scenes, seeing her in the public view now is great.

“I’m a very, very proud coach. It was great that the world got to see that Leona is that good, because we know she’s been that good for a long time

“She’s been world number 1 as an amateur, she’s eighth on the money list in America, which is way higher than any other European player, and I think a lot of people wouldn’t have been aware of that.

“She’s a class act and I did expect her to be one of the top players in the Solheim Cup. It was very nice to see her do it, but she is a big achiever and always has been, going back to her performances in the Curtis Cup and everything else.

“I think Leona’s performance for Europe is massive for ladies’ golf in Ireland. The men’s game has always been strong in Ireland, but ladies, we have no standout players, but I think Leona is the first one.

“She’s got her card on the LPGA Tour and she’s now a Solheim Cup player. That gives the next generation someone they can look up to, and other players below her a pathway to follow in her footsteps and show that a female player in Ireland can achieve what Leona has achieved. It gives them a role model.”


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