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Feb 04

Irish Wunderkinds Headed for Duke University

Irish Super-Kids, Twins Lisa and Leona Maguire

Now that I’ve surpassed the eight thousand mile mark driving around the United States this month, I’m finally seeing something that looks the same as it did the day before. After alternating between the sunny Bahamas and the northern ice storms, Paradise Island’s palm tree courses and signs in Rock Springs, Wyoming that read “Public Golf Course, Truckers Welcome,” I’m reading about two young female golfers from Ireland who are taking the next step in their march toward stardom on the professional tour.

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Lisa and Leona Maguire, hailing from County Cavan, are identical twins. That’s not so rare, actually, but identical twins who play the game of golf on the level produced by these kids – well, that’s a different story. Now, I grew up playing golf with identical twins, and no matter how many times I saw them, it was still hard to tell them apart. Their voices were similar, their laughs were indistinguishable from one another, and even their golf swings looked the same.

The golf coach at Duke University had better start practicing telling them apart, because he’s going to have the same problem with the Maguire sisters when they enroll in the coming fall. Upon their arrival, the golf team will have two members who are already seasoned touring amateurs, and very often winners, in Europe.

leona lisa maguire 4Leona, for example, has already won twenty amateur titles, and some of them are as high-level as it gets in Europe. Lisa is not far behind after giving up a promising career in swimming as a youngster. Like her sister, she has already played on the Curtis Cup, in 2010 and 2012, has appeared twice on the Junior European Solheim team (’09, ’11), won the 2011 European Ladies Amateur Championship, and the Spanish Ladies Championship. It seems as if most of the time, the only time they lose is to each other, and having the best competition at home seems like a good way to spur inspiration.

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The Maguires can be seen with regularity at the Killen Castle Golf Club, but they are also exceptional students – this evidenced by the fact that they received admission to Duke, and their marks in Ireland were exceptional. That’s as it should be, as Lisa and Leona are daughters of two schoolteachers, who must have a lot of confidence in them, allowing them to skip their junior certification exams (optional in Ireland) to join the Curtis team in the United States.

Lisa, the more gregarious of the two, according to the Duke staff, is currently ranked as the 35th amateur in the world, while sister Leona is ranked no. 6. Only Michelle Wie has played on the Curtis team at a younger age, and Lexi Thompson is just two months younger. In an odd occurrence, the sisters were both selected as Amateur of the Year as a joint award.


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leona lisa maguire 3It appears as if Lisa and Leona intend to spend four years of undergraduate work together at Duke, and one might assume enter the professional ranks together. where they will join previous phenoms who will have become veteran touring stars, such as Thompson, Lexi Ko and others.

For me, a little more snow, a little more sun, a little desert and a little river left until I finally return home today or tomorrow. But, I look forward to hearing and seeing more of the Irish super-kids who look exactly alike, and play pretty much alike as well.

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About the author

G.F. Skipworth

has spent every available moment playing golf or studying the greats since the 60s, in between world tours as a classical musician, Harvard studies in Government or as the author of a dozen novels. Nicklaus and Snead may be the statistical greats, but Skipworth is a life-long devotee of Gary Player, and considers meeting the South African at the Jeld-Wen to be an unforgettable milestone. His driving passion in golf these days is to raise viewer interest in the LPGA.