Entering Saturday’s final round of the LPGA Drive On Championship, never in the LPGA Tour’s 71-year history had an Irishwoman claimed victory. Now, the history book tells a different story.
After knocking on the door several times in the 2021 season, Leona Maguire is officially an LPGA Champion. The Cavan, Ireland native put on a dazzling display at the 54-hole LPGA Drive On Championship, finishing at -18 overall to claim her first LPGA tournament title in impressive fashion.
“It’s a bit surreal,” Maguire said of her first LPGA victory. “It’s been 17 years in the making. You kind of wonder if it’s ever going to happen, but I’m really proud of how I played all week, especially today. Dermot (Leona’s caddie) was incredible on the bag, keeping me calm all week. I have a lot of people to thank and it’s been a long road, but it’s probably more of a relief now than anything else.”
Entering the final round tied for the lead at -13, Leona weathered the storm through the first six holes before going on a blistering run over the next 10 holes. Relentlessly attacking pins and holing putts, Leona carded six birdies, highlighted by a stretch of five birdies in seven holes, to take a five-shot lead at -19 under par. Leona cruised through the last two holes, calmly tapping in on 18 to lock up a three-shot victory.
“I think staying patient,” Maguire noted as a key to her victory. “I felt like I did a really good job of that this week. I knew my game was close and did a lot of hard work in the offseason, and finally got there in the end.”
The hard work is indeed paying off, and the numbers certainly tell the story. In a look at the KPMG Performance Insights from the LPGA Drive On Championship, Maguire was dominant in multiple categories, most notably in approach shots and proximity to the hole. Maguire led the field in strokes gained approach (+2.8 per round), strokes gained tee to green (2.41 more than any other player in the field), and her average proximity to the hole in the final round was 23'2", more than 21 feet better than the field average. Click here for a deeper look at the KPMG Performance Insights from Maguire's victory.
While Maguire noted that the win may be a relief more than anything else, the impact it will have back home in Ireland cannot be overstated. The country has a rich passion for the sport, and Maguire hopes that today’s result can serve as an inspiration for young girls that want to follow in her footsteps.
“It’s huge for Irish golf. There was never an Irish player on the Tour, let alone a winner. Hopefully there are a lot of people watching at home tonight with big smiles on their faces and little girls watching hoping that they one day can hole a (winning) putt like that, too.”