Leona Maguire has lost none of her fantastic touch since entering the professional ranks.
The 23-year-old, whose twin Lisa has also just shed her amateur status, is making her pro bow at the ShopRite LPGA Classic in New Jersey.
Maguire, who owns the all-time women’s World Amateur Golf Rankings record for most weeks ranked No. 1 (135), is considered among the best amateurs in the history of the women’s game. And given that it puts her alongside the likes of phenom Lydia Ko, that’s no small feat.
She represented Ireland at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, led the Great Britain & Ireland team to victory in the Curtis Cup against the United States, and won the 2017 Ladies British Open Amateur Championship.
So when the Cavan duo decided to step up to the paid ranks, there was understandable worldwide excitement.
The top Tour in the women’s game is as competitive as ever though, no better illustrated than in Lisa Maguire’s +13 total for her first professional round. Leona, however, is bang in contention at the top of the leaderboard.
First tee shot of @leona_maguire’s professional career was straight down the middle. And she made birdie. One under after 9 with just one mistake as the wind rises. #impressive pic.twitter.com/4xxrMr2mFh
— Brian Keogh (@IrishGolfDesk) June 8, 2018
A solid first round in which she made three birdies and missed only one fairway out of 14, left her just three shots off the lead.
On Saturday, as the leaders made their charge, Leona made an eagle on the par 5 ninth hole, following two bogeys and birdies on her front nine. A birdie at 10 was cancelled out on the 12th, but two birdie putts on the last two holes were good enough for a round of 67, leaving her on -6, three shots off leader Celine Herbin of France.
Very impressive 4 under 67 for @leona_maguire who is T4 on -6 and just 2 off the clubhouse lead in the #ShopRiteLPGA heading into the final round. Might end up 4 or 5 back but she’s in with a sniff. pic.twitter.com/9MxOSpsDXj
— Brian Keogh (@IrishGolfDesk) June 9, 2018
All very exciting, but Maguire is impressively cool heading into the final round, as she told the Golf Channel.
“I felt pretty calm,” Maguire said after the second round.
“It doesn’t feel all that different, really. Just playing my own game. Wanted to give myself a chance going into tomorrow.”