No Curtis Cup swansong for Leona: "I am ready to go pro"

No Curtis Cup swansong for Leona: "I am ready to go pro"
 Leona Maguire during the 2016 U.S. Women's Open at CordeValle in California. © USGA/Steven Gibbons

Leona Maguire during the 2016 U.S. Women's Open at CordeValle in California. © USGA/Steven Gibbons

Leona Maguire has decided to give up the chance to make her amateur swansong in June's Curtis Cup and targeted a dream professional debut in the US Women's Open at Shoal Creek.

The Duke University star (23) informed captain Elaine Farquharson-Black on Tuesday that she will be a professional before Great Britain and Ireland take on the USA at Quaker Ridge in New York from June 8-10.

"Elaine was obviously disappointed," explained Maguire, who helped GB&I to victory in her third Curtis Cup appearance at Dun Laoghaire in 2016.

"She'd love to have her strongest team going there in June but she understood that I have to take this next step in my career. 

"I have been waiting a long time to turn pro and at this point I am ready to go.

"My experiences in the Curtis Cup have been unbelievable. The win in Dun Laoghaire will always be a highlight, especially to win at home against a very stacked US team. 

"A lot of people didn't expect us to win there so it would be tough to top that and I guess that at this point I am just ready to make that next step and not delay it."

Planning to mix LPGA Tour invitations with appearances on the second tier Symetra Tour as soon as the college season finishes on May 23, she added: “I will be playing catch up on the Symetra Tour as it is.  

"I'll have already missed seven events so I'd like to get out there and get started at it as soon as my college career is over." 

Currently second in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, Maguire has achieved almost all her amateur goals bar the NCAA team title.

“To win the NCAAs would be the cherry on top so I am going into these last few events trying to top it all off as well as I can,” she said, targeting NCAA National finals which conclude in Oklahoma on May 23 as the perfect place to bow out of the amateur game.

Before that she has the ACC Conference final this weekend, her final exam on May 2 and the NCAA Regional Championship from May 7-9 before she tees it up with twin sister Lisa in Sectional Qualifying for the US Women's Open at Bermuda Run Country Club in North Carolina on May 15.

If she gets through the qualifier she will play as a professional in the US Women's Open — the season's second major — at Shoal Creek in Alabama from May 31 to June 3, which is the week before the Curtis Cup. 

The GB&I Curtis Cup team will be named next week and while Leona's absence is a blow to the holders, Irish golf is likely to have a strong presence with Olivia Mehaffey and Paula Grant both ranked in the top 60 in the world.

Maguire broke Lydia Ko’s record for weeks as the number one player on the World Amateur Golf Ranking in February, before being overtaken after a 134 weeks last month by American Lilia Kha-Tu Vu. 

"I'd like to get it back," Maguire said of her world number one ranking. “But my focus now is on improving and preparing as best I can to make that transition to the pro ranks. 

"I made a few tweaks to my swing over the winter with [coach] Shane [O'Grady] and it's taken a bit longer to get used to them. But my focus has all been on June onwards. 

"While it's maybe been a bit of a slower start to the year than usual, that's all been part of the plan. 

"I've just been trying to get a more consistent ball flight that will work better on tour. There are a few things in my backswing that I've worked on to have a more neutral flight and become a little more consistent — more solid, week-in, week-out. 

"Obviously I have been working a lot on my short game and putting as well just to make sure it is all firing on all cylinders when I need it."

Leona Maguire's schedule

  • April 21-23 ACC Championship
  • May 07-09 (TBC) NCAA Regional Championship
  • May 15 US Women's Open Sectional Qualifying, Bermuda Run C.C., N Carolina
  • May 18-23 (TBC) NCAA Championship, Karsten Creek Golf Club, Stillwater, Oklahoma.
  • May 31-June 3 (TBC) U.S. Women's Open, Shoal Creek, Shoal Creek, Ala.