Leona Maguire is hoping that her major experience and accuracy from the tee will pay dividends when she makes her professional debut in the $1.75 million ShopRite LPGA Classic in Atlantic City today.
She tees it up on the Bay Course at rookies Maddie McCrary and Lauren Coughlin at 5.48 pm Irish time looking to get off to a solid start.
"The rough is long," she said. "They've let the fescue grow up, so accuracy is going to be key, which is something I'm kind of glad about.
"So lots of fairways and greens and hopefully roll in a few putts as the week goes on.
"I played with some of these girls before. I've got to test my game against them on some big golf courses as well. So I hope I've learned a lot from those experiences."
Twin sister Lisa will be the first in action, teeing it up at 12:48 Irish time with Taylor Totland and veteran Natalie Gulbis in a field that features the likes of Lydia Ko, world No 4 Shanshan Feng, defending champion IK Kim, and KPMG stablemate Stacy Lewis.
In New York, Great Britain and Ireland begin their defence of the Curtis Cup at Quaker Ridge with the Alice Hewson and Royal County Down's Olivia Mehaffey hope the experience they gained two years ago.
“I feel that it is now my role to help the younger players by taking them under my wing, ” said Mehaffey, who is joined by debutante Paula Grant from Lisburn
"It’s a long week and the Curtis Cup is different to other golf tournaments so it’s good to help prepare the new players for what lies ahead."
“I know all the American girls very well but during weeks like this it’s all about spending time with your team and we want to win. It’s going to be a really closely contested match played in good spirit. Both teams really want to win this.”
The team includes three teenagers – Annabell Fuller, Lily May Humphreys and Shannon McWilliam – who will make their first appearance in the Curtis Cup alongside Grant, India Clyburn and Sophie Lamb.
“Playing in the Curtis Cup was one of my goals this year and I am delighted to have been selected for the final team,” said McWilliam.
“I have played with most of the team before, particularly Olivia and Lily, and you just adapt to being in a new team environment quickly. I’m excited to be here and I think it will be a great experience.”
The Americans are the hot favourites on paper but Mehaffey is not ready to concede defeat by any means.
"Two years ago, if I remember correctly, United States of America had every single player in the top 20 in the world, and we managed to win then," she said.
"I mean, rankings are a great basis, but ranking may not matter on a week like this. Match play, people react to different situations. I think if you get fired up and you really thrive off match play, I don't really feel like ranking plays a part."
Having experienced the joy of victory in 2016 at Dun Laoghaire Golf Club, Mehaffey wants the newcomers in the side to experience what she felt in Co Wicklow.
"I think just looking back and remembering the feeling of winning, being involved in it all, the matches, it was played in Ireland, so it was my home, and all my friends and family were there, and you're just remembering those moments and the nerves on the first tee, everything about the whole week.
"It's just such a special week, and I know what it feels like to have been part of a victorious Curtis Cup team, and I want the rest of the girls who haven't got to experience that," said Mehaffey who partners Sophie Lamb against Jennifer Kupcho and Lucy Li.
"I would love for them to experience that, too, because the adrenaline high and the emotions, and it's so incredible.
"There's nothing like sharing something with your team, and I think it's something that I'll remember for however long my career is any future. It's such a special moment, and I think that's a really special thing about team golf and getting to compete in this tournament."
Grant and Shannon McWilliam will face Lauren Stephenson and Sophia Schubert
The Curtis Cup is played over three days with eight singles matches, six foursomes matches and six fourballs matches. The United States leads the overall series 28-8-3.
Curtis Cup, Quaker Ridge, NY
Day One - Fourballs
- 9:05 am Olivia Mehaffey / Sophie Lamb vs Jennifer Kupcho / Lucy Li
- 9:17 am Alice Hewson / Lily May Humphreys vs Lilia Vu / Kristen Gillman
- 9:29 am Paula Grant / Shannon McWilliam vs Lauren Stephenson / Sophia Schubert