"A star is born!" - Americans gush as Leona Maguire beats their best
"Maybe that was just one of these lucky ones."
Leona Maguire and Mel Reid are two fine golfers, but they only have one LPGA Tour win between them [Reid, in October 2020]. Team Europe captain Caitriona Matthew saw something special in them.
Matthew paired up the more experienced English golfer [seven career tournament wins] with the Irish rookie for three matches at the Solheim Cup, and has been richly rewarded.
Maguire and Reid have beaten sisters Nelly and Jess Korda, and took world No.1 Nelly Korda and Ally Ewing down on Sunday. They then won a crucial half point against red-hot American duo Lizette Salas and Jennifer Kupcho. For the one match that saw Reid rested, Maguire teamed up with Georgia Hall to beat Brittany Altamore and Yealimi Noh.
Asked what inspired her to team Reid up with the Cavan native, Matthew replied, "I don't know. I just felt Mel perhaps hadn't been coming in with the best of form, but watched during the practice days and she seemed to be hitting it really well.
"And Leona, as everyone knows, is such a solid player. I know they're quite different personalities. To be honest they were quite surprised, but I told them both, Just go out and have a practice together and see how you get on.
"I think it was really because they had never really spent much time with each other, so they didn't really know each other. I think they've got to know each other, and they've kind of revelled in each other's company."
"I'm very, very impressed with her," Matthew told reporters when asked about Maguire [3.5 points from four maches].
"I was impressed with her even before she made the team, and I had watched little bit over this year and had followed her career over the last probably five or six years.
"She has the reputation of being a great match player, and I think she's shown everyone that that's true."
After seeing off Korda and Ewing in the morning, Maguire's clutch putting kept Europe in the fight against Salas and Kupcho. Time and again, the 26-year-old was dropping must-make putts from 15- and 20-feet.
— SportsJOE (@SportsJOEdotie) September 5, 2021
It came all the way down to the last and it as Reid stepping up to the plate with a bold iron approach that gave her a birdie attempt that would ultimately tie the match.
The NBC commentators were gushing about Maguire all throughout days one and two at the Solheim Cup. Others in the USA are clearly impressed with the Irish golfer too. On the No Laying Up podcast, they declared:
"Leona Maguire, a star is born, officially."
Tongue-in-cheek, as Irish listeners to the popular show have been raving about Maguire for years now, they joked, "People in Ireland, you gotta alert us when somebody... no-one mentioned Leona to us. We had no idea she was coming. We need a little heads-up on this."
"No," they added, "they are fired up in Ireland about this. I don't think I ever fully realised before this, that this is maybe the greatest Irish women's player ever."
Leona F’n Maguire. https://t.co/jt5oJRN2da
— No Laying Up (@NoLayingUp) September 5, 2021
The Monday Singles are up next with Europe leading the hosts 9-7. Maguire will need to maintain her excellent start as she is up against an equally class rookie, in Jennifer Kupcho.
It should be another gripping day's play.