Patience pays off for Leona with maiden win

Patience pays off for Leona with maiden win
Leona Maguire shows off her “trophy” — a three-litre bottle of wine courtesy of the Windsor Golf Classic sponsors. Picture courtesy Symetra Tour

Leona Maguire shows off her “trophy” — a three-litre bottle of wine courtesy of the Windsor Golf Classic sponsors. Picture courtesy Symetra Tour

Patience paid off for Leona Maguire as she took a giant step towards her LPGA Tour dream by snatching her maiden professional win in a playoff in California.

Now the Cavan star (24) is targeting more success and a big move up the world rankings as she briefly turns her attention to the Ladies European Tour.

She leapt 61 places to 232nd in the world when she closed with a brilliant seven-under 65 in the Windsor Golf Classic near San Francisco, then birdied the first playoff hole to beat Thailand's Pajaree Anannarukarn and claim the $22,500 top prize.

The win catapulted her to the top of the Symetra Tour money list with the top-10 money winners earning promotion to the LPGA Tour at the end of the season.

And she admitted that after finishing fifth and fourth in her last two starts, she had to remind herself to remain patient and keep her foot on the gas.

"I was talking to Dad on the phone during the week and he kept saying to just to try and finish better and better every week and keep going, so that's what I did, " said Leona, who led going into the final round of the IOA Championship the previous Sunday but shot 77 to finish fourth in poor weather conditions.

"Any time you are in the lead or near the lead, you know you are doing some things right. So I just kept trying to give myself chances. 

"You have to lose one maybe before you win one and I learned quite a  bit from last week and made sure I kept the foot down this week. It was patience more than anything else that did it, a bit like my first year in college, which was similar."

Maguire didn't turn professional until June last year and while she won a Ladies European Tour card just before Christmas, she felt she was chasing too much in the US after waiting until after her college graduation to turn professional.

"I’ve been a bit more patient this year," she said on Sunday, where she came from two shots off the lead to win. "I think I was too eager to try and rush things too quick last year, trying to play catch-up too much, didn’t give myself enough rest. 

"This year has been nice, working my way into the season with some really good finishes and trying to get better every week. I knew I would get there eventually, took a little longer than I would have liked, but it’s a great feeling.”

Her win was the perfect end to a 10-week road trip that took her from Cavan to Australia and the USA via Dubai.

She returns home this week for a two-week break before heading to LET events in Morocco and Dubai that could catapult her into Solheim Cup contention if she can find another win.

"It's a nice boost to get," said Leona, who had Bray's John Mulrooney, Darren Clarke's 2011 Open Championship winning caddie, on her bag.

"It will allow me to plan a little more. I couldn't have asked for a better way to finish off this stretch. It's nice to win when you are playing well."

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