Leona Maguire rules out rush to pro ranks and Olympics (for now): "I'm definitely not going to do anything rash"

World Amateur No 1 Leona Maguire. Photo By: Lindy Brown, Duke Sports Information

Leona Maguire might have won three of her last four events to become the first Irishwoman to reach No 1 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking but she appears determined to resist the lure of the pro ranks in the short term at least and that could mean bad news for Ireland's Olympic golf team leader Paul McGinley.

Qualification for Rio de Janeiro 2016 is decided via the International Golf Federation's Olympic Rankings and with those rankings based on official prize money earned on the world's main tours, Leona would be ineligible.

According to the rules, "...to be eligible to participate in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, all athletes must: - Be listed by name on the Olympic Golf Ranking at http://www.igfgolf.org/ as of the 11 July 2016."

McGinley is looking to Stephanie Meadow, Ireland's No 1 ranked player in the professional game at 103rd in the Rolex Rankings, to lead our women's team while US based but Galway born Alison Walshe, who is expected to declare for Ireland is 135th in the professional rankings ahead of 668th ranked Rebecca Codd.

As things stand, Meadow is the only Irish player officially listed in the Olympic Rankings but Leona, who is completing a sensational freshman year at Duke University, is keen to remain in college for a while longer, though a full, four-year stay now seems unlikely with the LPGA Tour beckoning.

Lisa Maguire lines up a putt. Photo By: Lindy Brown, Duke Sports Information

"The Olympics would be a huge honour but I am taking things as they come," she said on Wednesday. "The plan was obviously to stay for four years but I am just going to see how it all pans out. I am just enjoining playing tournaments and the whole experience here at the minute. I am not gong to make any rash decisions anyway.

"I haven't spoken to him [McGinley] personally yet. He's obviously hugely involved in Rio but I'm not even sure how the Olympics works. It's based on the world rankings, as far as I know. 

"The plan is to stay here for a another while to get my game to another level. I'm definitely going to do anything rash or make any knee-jerk reaction."

Having qualified for the NCAA Finals in Florida next week, Leona and her twin sister Lisa are fully focused on helping Duke retain the national title before heading back to Ireland for the amateur season.

No doubt Leona's options will be discussed with her parents Breda and Declan and coach Shane O'Grady. 

"I have a full schedule for the next while with the Close and the British Amateur and all the usual big events," Leona said. 

As for her rise to World No 1, she said: "It's nice. To be honest i don't know how the rankings work but I got a few texts this morning telling me I was No 1. It's great, the culmination of a lot of years of hard work, I guess.

"I got up to No 4 a few years ago so it's nice to get to No 1. It's really just a confidence booster, I guess. But there is a lot more golf to be played and I will still be trying to win as many tournaments as I can and win as many tournaments as I can. I have a lot of tournaments left this year and so I am jus working towards them right now."

Leona and Lisa with some of the Duke University team and staff. Photo By: Lindy Brown, Duke Sports Information

Winning breeds confidence and Leona is hoping she can help Duke to a second successive NCAA title, especially with the format changing to matchplay for this year's finals at The Concession in Florida.

"It's three of the last four, so I am definitely going in the right direction that this stage of the season," she said of her run of form. "Regionals was big last week and we will be defending our title next week with a very different team to the one we had last year.

"it's also matchplay this year for the first time so while a lot of people don't know what to expect, myself and Lisa and Celine [Boutier of France] have played a lot of matchplay and we have a lot of experience in that department.

"We are just getting ready trying to get our games in the best shape possible, playing  on lots of Bermuda grass as the last few weeks have been bent grass. And we are tying to get a few Jack Nicklaus designs in as well and played one yesterday."

The twins, who got more than 600 points each in their Leaving Certificates, did their final first years exams on May 2 and have the rest of the summer to play golf.

"It's gym and all golf now from here on," Leona said. 

Sister Lisa is up to 816th in the world though her ranking is no reflection of her improving game.

"We've always spurred each other on and supported each other," Leona said. "And we still do."