It’s been 10 years since the Irish Open was last held, and it’s no coincidence that the event’s return has coincided with the rise of a bonafide Irish star in Leona Maguire. Maguire, currently number 18 in the world, has begun to live up to her amateur promise with her groundbreaking performance at the 2021 Solheim Cup and first win at the LPGA Drive On earlier this year.
Maguire’s hometown of Cavan staged a parade in her honor as she returned to Irish soil after last year’s Solheim. The 27-year-old Duke grad then became the first Irish player to win at the LPGA, and now her personal sponsor, KPMG, is the title sponsor of her national Open.
KPMG’s influence on the women’s game ranges from title sponsor of one of the five LPGA majors to sponsorship of the Irish Kids Golf Tour, which is open to boys and girls aged 13 and under. They also financially support the LPGA’s revamped statistics system.
“It was always a big event when it was planned a few years ago,” said Maguire of the Irish, “and it’s taken 10 years, but a lot of planning and organization has gone into it, and hopefully this can still be done.” long to be a major event on the LET agenda.”
Maguire and twin sister Lisa played as amateurs at the Irish Open from 2009 to 2012 at Portmarnock and Killeen Castle. Leona was 15 years old when she first played in the Irish Open, and she was paired up with Dame Laura Davies, whom she called intimidating.
“She hit that iron of hers everywhere,” said Maguire, “and I tried to hit my driver within 40 yards of it.”
Catriona Matthew, who captained Maguire’s Solheim Cup last year, won the Irish in 2012 by a single blow over Suzann Pettersen and will battle alongside Maguire in the opening two rounds at Dromoland Castle this week. Matthew was also on the winning European Solheim Cup team at Killeen in 2011.
“I’ve been playing in the pro-am all 18 now and I think it’s going to be a tough course,” said Matthew. “The front nine are tough from the tee and the greens are tough. I’m really looking forward to it and there’s a real buzz about the tournament and it looks like we’re going to have a good crowd. ”
Linn Grant, a four-time winner of the LET this season, highlights another tent combination alongside up-and-coming teenager Pia Babnik and 41-year-old Liz Young, who recently won her first LET title in Switzerland.
The 72-hole stroke play event has a field of 126 and a purse of 400,000 euros.
Story originally appeared on GolfWeek