Leona Maguire has seen more of the world than most other 24-year-olds but as the old saying goes there’s no place like home.
A golf prodigy, the Cavan native left rural Ireland at just 18 for pastures new in North Carolina and Duke University.
With her degree now in the bag, Maguire’s attentions are fully focused on professional golf. So much so, that the young star is currently living out of her suitcase.
“Wherever there’s a tournament,” Maguire responds to the question around where she is based.
“It’s basically me and my suitcase just going from event to event. I got home a few times which was nice, more so than I did in college. I’ll be home for a little bit in the winter then go to Spain for an event and then I’ll probably head out to Florida early in January to get some work in.
“It’s kind of a nomadic life, being a golfer. You’re living out of suitcases and bouncing around. I’ve got to go to some pretty cool places, which is nice. It’s definitely a great way to see the world. The LPGA is going to 17 countries next year which is exciting. I’ve never been to Asia before so I’ll go there for the first time.”
While she may be here, there and everywhere for the majority of the year, Cavan and its people are still very much a part of who she is. Which is why she relishes the opportunity to spend some time back in rural Ireland.
“Yeah, absolutely, I’m not home that often so, anytime I do get home it’s that bit nicer getting to sleep in your own bed, get mam’s cooking and all that which is quite nice. I started off the year, I left for Dubai in January and it’s pretty much been all-go since.
“Anytime I am announced on the tee, it’s always ‘from Cavan’ and it’s always nice when I get to go home, people take such an interest, even if they don’t know golf. My Granny, she’s 92 and she’s checking up on where I am this week and where I am going and all of that. It’s nice to have that support there, no matter where I am in the world, they are back home cheering me on.”
The opportunity to get home, or even phone home, is always a welcome distraction for Maguire whose life seems to be centred around her performances on the golf course.
Hailing from a staunch GAA background, with the help of her father, Maguire is always kept up to speed on the Cavan GAA scene and relishes the opportunity to support her county.
She also relishes the sense of normality she gets from her connection to home.
“I was lucky when I got home I got to go to the Ulster semi-final, that was a nice one to be at. When I’m back I’ll always go to watch Cavan play. Dad’s a big GAA man. Anytime, I ring home, or dad rings me, that’s the first thing he’ll fill me in on, all the other sports and how Cavan are doing. Then 20 minutes later he’ll ask me how golf went today.
“It’s quite nice that when I ring home it’s not all about golf and how I played. A lot of my friends never played golf, never have done and don’t really understand what it is or what the LPGA is. They just see me going off to different countries and think it’s great, think I’m off travelling the world and maybe get a bit jealous sometimes but it’s nice to have that sense of normality at home.
“When I go home I’m just Leona, not Leona the pro golfer.”
Of course, it’s not just Leona who is lighting up the golf course and making a name for herself. Twin sister Lisa has been with her every step of the way, from Cavan through to North Carolina.
However, with both of them now trying to make a life for themselves in the professional ranks, they’ve had to deal with being separated for the first time in their lives. Leona can be predominantly found on the US circuit while Lisa is on the European Tour.
While Maguire admits it’s taken getting used to not having her twin sister alongside her, it’s more difficult for their parents Declan and Breda who are trying to keep track of two daughters who could be anywhere in the world at any given time.
“We’ve grown up doing everything together. It’s definitely a little different her not being there.
“She was playing over in Europe while I was playing in the US. I got to see her a few times when I played a few of the European events, which was nice, But yeah, some of the weeks is probably the longest we’ve gone without seeing each other, probably ever. It was definitely a different thing to get used to.
“It’s definitely hard for them to keep track: ‘Where’s Leona this week? Where’s Lisa?’ Even when we were playing events together in Dubai and Morocco, afterwards, Lisa headed one way and I headed another, it’s definitely a little different.”
Since turning pro in June of 2018, Maguire’s career has been on a constant upward trajectory. With a hole-in-one in her second event, two tour wins and a seventh-place finish on the Symetra Tour’s (LGPA secondary tour) money list, she has now been rewarded with her LGPA Tour card for 2020.
Her incredible rise has seen her jump 440 places on world rankings since turning professional less than two years ago (she’s currently 174th).
While it’s all been going so well for Maguire thus far, she knows that the real work is about to start as she prepares to take that next step up and compete with the elite athletes that golf has to offer.
“It’s like anything else, the things I have worked on have helped me on my way up the ladder. But like anything, once you get to the next level, there’s always some new challenges and opportunities to go along with it.
“It’s just about fine-tuning everything, there’s always room for improvement in every aspect of the game. So, it’s just about trying to make those small gains that add up to something a bit bigger.
“In the off-season, I’ll be in the gym trying to maybe get a bit longer off the tee and hopefully, that’ll help for some of the long major standard courses. No major changes, though, just trying to get that little bit better and as sharp as I could be for next year.
“There’ll definitely be a transition period for sure. I’d like to hit the ground running as soon as I can but you’re not quite sure what to expect until you get out there. This year was great so hopefully, I can build on that and finish as high as I can up the leader board every week. We’ll see how it goes.”
Kinetica Sports Nutrition, one of Ireland’s leading sports nutrition brands, has today proudly announced that it is set to become Leona Maguire’s new official bag sponsor. The sponsorship announcement comes on the back of a stellar start to Leona’s professional career, with an incredible highlights reel featuring 11 consecutive cuts made, two professional wins on the 2019 Symetra Tour and achieving the ultimate goal of securing her official tour card to compete on the illustrious LPGA Tour.