Leona Maguire hopes Ireland’s performance in the first women’s OIympic golf event for 116 years will be an inspiration to future generations at home,
The 21-year old world No 1 amateur finished in share of 21st as team mate Stephanie Meadow finished tied 31st behind gold medal winner Inbee Park, silver medallist Lydia Ko from New Zealand and bronze medal winner Shanshan Fend from China.
“It's been a fantastic week,” said Leona, who plans to try for her LPGA Tour card at Q-School in October. “Obviously going to some of the sport events at the start of the week was great.
“I got to see Michael Phelps’ last race and then being able to be in the first group here on the first morning is something I'll never forget
“To have [Irish team team Captain] Paul McGinley here, as well, has been unbelievable. He couldn't have been more help to us, and to have someone of his calibre with us all week helping us as much as he can, you can't really ask for much more than that.”
Both Irish players performed well above their pre-Olympic ranking and Leona hopes they will inspire a new generation of Irish women to take up the game.
“Hopefully it means a lot,” she said. “It was great to have both myself and Stephanie out here this week. We both did pretty well I think.
“And obviously this has been streamed all around the world, so I think it's great for ladies golf in general. It's nice to see big crowds out there today.”
While she returns to Duke University next week, she may be playing alongside the Olympic medallists before long.
"I'm going back to college next week, back to Duke, and then we've got the World Amateur in a few weeks' time in México,” she said. “Then I've got some college events and I've got PGA Q-School in October, second stage. Sort of building up to that.
"If I do get my card, I will turn pro. So I can't reallyI think ultimately I will get my degree at some stage. When that is, I don't know.”