Belfast Telegraph

Maguire twins have their sights on World joy at Galgorm

 

Twin magic: Lisa and Leona Maguire are excited to take part in the ISPS World Invitational, starting tomorrow at Galgorm Castle and Massereene
Twin magic: Lisa and Leona Maguire are excited to take part in the ISPS World Invitational, starting tomorrow at Galgorm Castle and Massereene
Adam McKendry

By Adam McKendry

Flanked by father Declan and a small group of fans, twins Leona and Lisa Maguire stride down the 18th hole at Galgorm Castle.

The Co Cavan sisters play the final hole almost identically - drive down the middle, a fairway wood just short of the green, wedge onto the putting surface and two putts for par - to conclude their final practice round before the ISPS World Invitational, presented by Modest! Golf.

That was yesterday. Now imagine if it is Sunday afternoon, the stand packed and the two Maguires heading towards the green duelling for the title.

"That'd be nice, yeah!" smiled Lisa. "It'd be a nice finish to what should be a good tournament."

It could be a reality in four days' time, the Irish duo among the local hopes aiming to make it a hometown winner at this week's tournament, starting tomorrow, as leading lights in the women's field.

It is the first time in Europe that men and women will compete on level terms for equal prize money across Glagorm Castle and Massereene.

Along with Solheim Cup star Charley Hull and Northern Ireland ace Stephanie Meadow, the Maguires will be among the early favourites to be in the mix on the final afternoon.

Leona looks the more likely, having already made a name for herself on the Symetra Tour, winning twice this year and sitting in a comfortable third on the money list, well on her way to an LPGA Tour card for next season.

Lisa is capable of a big performance too, though, and has been grafting away in the Ladies' European Tour's Access Series where she has a tied-sixth finish in Neuchatel earlier this year.

There's no sibling rivalry between the two, however, so don't expect any fireworks should the pair be in that final group on Sunday afternoon.

"We both want to see each other do as well as we can this week and it's nice that we get to play together, we don't get to do that much any more," said Leona.

"It should be a good week, the whole family's here and hopefully there'll be a lot of home support for us as well."

Both have been excellent advocates for a tournament which is drawing interest from around the world thanks to its innovative format. The first of its kind in Europe, men and women will play in the same event for identical £250,000 prize funds.

The Maguires have been at the forefront of driving more access for women's golf, so it's fitting that both are in action this week.

Both have been active in the women's game in Ireland as members at their home club Slieve Russell, while Leona has signed up to the 20x20 campaign - alongside Meadow - to bring more visibility to women's sport.

"I think everybody's looking forward to it. It's a new format, we played something similar to it in Australia earlier this year and all the men and women really enjoyed it," said Leona.

"We're not playing in the same groups as them but it's nice to see the guys on the range, some of the girls are playing practice rounds with the guys as well.

"The equal prize money is a big thing for us as well and it's good to get the opportunity to piggyback off the bigger men's events.

"Hopefully people will come out this week and maybe they'll see that the standard of the women's game isn't far off the men's. It'd be great to see little girls come out and be inspired by what they've seen and at some point be playing out here too."

This is a rare chance for the Maguires to play at home as well, and with their friends and family in attendance, the pressure is on for them to live up to the expectations.

Like so many times before in their still-young careers though, expect them to flourish.

"Any time we get a chance to play at home is nice, and to have something like the Challenge Tour with it is great as well," said Lisa.

"Hopefully we'll see some good crowds out there because other players we've talked to at tournaments have really been looking forward to coming here."

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