Leona Maguire Turning Pro? Then Lisa?

Maguire Sisters Make Mark Overseas and at College – Now the Pros?

Why should Rory McIlroy have all the fun? The girls play golf in Ireland, too, and they’re good. One famous pair has found their way to Duke University. Twins Leona and Lisa Maguire continue to excel here on a national level, just as they did over there. It appears as if one has made the decision to turn pro and compete in the LPGA. Leona is giving up a spot on the Curtis Cup, an event to which she has a strong heart connection, having played in several for Great Britain and Ireland.

Leona has attempted Q School on two occasions, being turned away both times. It’s not really the sort of thing one does while trying to finish a degree at Duke University. The U.S. Women’s Open seems to be the event of choice for such a big step, and it’s all wrapped up in the calendar. The open has been moved to June, one week before the Curtis Cup. Leona will begin the qualifying process for the tournament as an amateur, and if she makes it to the next level, it will be as a professional. She has already made herself known in collegiate circles, being twice named NCAA Player of the Year with a number one amateur ranking. It shouldn’t come as a surprise. Leon, born in 1994, finished third in a 12-and-under World Championship held in 2006. In 2008, at the age of thirteen, she won the French under-18 in Paris, not to mention the 21-and-under in 2010. This year, she broke Lydia Ko’s record of occupying the top ranking for the greatest number of weeks.  It sounds as if 2018 is a good time to consider a leap to the professional world.
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But wait, there’s more. Here comes Lisa, born within fifteen minutes of Leona. That 12-and-under where an 11-year old Leona finished third? It was Lisa who won it. The two sisters have dueled at a number of local, regional, and national venues, with Lisa winning her fair share of tournaments. In 2011, she won the Spanish Ladies Open Amateur Championship, and in July the European Ladies Open Championship. Handling her share of the academics as well as her sister, she has been named to the All-American Scholarship Team. We are less sure of her thoughts about turning professional, and when such a thing might happen, but the game is there if she decides to give it a try.

I wonder about the possible advantages of growing up as a pair of talents, rather than fending for one’s self against an increasing level of opponents’ talent along the way. To grow up with a world-class rival at home should, one would think, hone a game exceptionally well, through both competition and collaboration.  Going up through the ranks as a twosome might provide a shared pride, not to mention a treasure trove of family memories. It means having a fan in the gallery or the coaching session who really knows what she’s talking about. Perhaps such an arrangement can protect a young star from the press, and from unrealistic expectations and timetables. Sharing the anxiety of the process seems like a blessing.

After following the Maguire sisters a decade ago and checking in from time to time, the charming adolescent story has turned into the opportunity for serious careers, playing a game they love. Leona is the first one to take the leap, and Lisa may decide the same, who knows? Breaking into the U.S. Women’s Open isn’t the easiest way to do it, but there is no easy way without a good stretch of exceptional golf.  Ireland has produced of host of great players over the years. For the Maguire sisters, the heritage and hard work is starting to make perfect sense.


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