Leona and Lisa Maguire are expected to turn professional by the end of the month after Duke University bowed out of the NCAA Division One Women’s Championship in Oklahoma yesterday.
Duke fell 3.5-1.5 to the University of Southern California (USC) in the quarter-finals at Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, bringing four success-laden years in US collegiate golf to an anti-climatic end for the 23-year old Co Cavan duo.
Two up with four to go in a match that produced 11 birdies, Leona was pegged back to all square with one hole to go by Jennifer Chang in the top match.
But the world No 2 hit her approach to the final hole, the ninth, to a foot to set up a birdie that Chang could not match, winning one up.
He win put Duke 1-0 up but a 4 and 2 defeat for Lisa, coupled with losses for teammates Jaravee Boonchant and Ana Belac saw the Slieve Russell pair end their storied amateur careers without the coveted NCAA title.
Leona had hoped would be "the cherry on top" of four memorable years but Tuesday's disappointment is only a minor footnote given their incredible careers to date.
Leona has excelled, claiming two National Player of the Year awards, an astounding 10 career wins, 24 top five finishes, 36 top 10s and 39 top 20 finishes en route to breaking Lydia Ko’s record for the most weeks at the top of the World Amateur rankings with 131.
She twice contemplated turning professional during her time in the US but decided to complete her degree, finishing her college career with a string of records, including a scoring average of 70.9 — the lowest in NCAA Division One women’s golf history among players who have played at least 100 rounds.
“I’ve got one sister on the team but I might as well have four,” Leona told Steve Wiseman of Raleigh's The News & Observer when reflecting on her Duke career. "I’ve always said coming to Duke was the best decision I’ve ever made and likewise staying here was as well. It’s prepared me very, very well for pro golf and for life in general.”
The twins are expected to turn professional by the end of the month and base themselves in Arizona.
Leona has a card for the second tier Symetra Tour with a management company announcement, and LPGA Tour invitations, expected to follow soon.