Solheim Cup: Irish golfer’s victory and inspiration

Written by Staff Writer Nick Faldo beamed with pride as he watched Leona Maguire stroke in a win in her Solheim Cup debut. The golfer from Belfast bagged a five-and-three half point win with…

Solheim Cup: Irish golfer's victory and inspiration

Written by Staff Writer

Nick Faldo beamed with pride as he watched Leona Maguire stroke in a win in her Solheim Cup debut.

The golfer from Belfast bagged a five-and-three half point win with Seve Ballesteros International. The record of Faldo’s successor at the European tour helm, Darren Clarke, was turned on its head as Irishwoman Maguire’s victory got the European side rolling in their European Solheim Cup comeback against the United States at Des Moines Golf and Country Club in Iowa.

By winning, the young Northern Irish team maintained its unbeaten record from the 2016 edition when Faldo and Clarke sat on the sidelines.

On Sunday, Maguire (left) tweeted “let’s do this” and pictured the ball with her name on it after sinking a brilliant chip shot from a bunker to seal victory.

The 23-year-old spoke to CNN Sport at the Solheim Cup about being inspired by the late Spanish star and her decision to switch from the Ladies European Tour to the US-based Symetra Tour.

Maguire, 25th in the world amateur rankings, capped a full Solheim Cup debut with an all-round fantastic performance that included an eagle on the last.

In 2012, the golfing world mourned Ballesteros’s death from complications caused by an infection of his brain after a golf course collapse.

Leona Maguire’s five-and-three half point win with Seve Ballesteros International provided a huge psychological boost for the European team. Credit: Joe Klamar/AFP/AFP/Getty Images

“He was the inspiration because he was the biggest character. Even without the incredible game he’s had, he’s a fantastic character,” Maguire told CNN Sport.

“To achieve what he has … Golf is a very small fraternity, and the Solheim Cup has always represented the best of the best and always has, and I think that’s what he really achieved.”

Faldo was captured by the dramatic scenes at the end of Sunday’s singles.

“It was amazing. It was unbelievable,” he said after the 13½-11½ victory. “You couldn’t have scripted it any better.”

Faldo admitted he was more nervous on Sunday than for his 1986 win as an amateur, for which he became the youngest player to win a major championship.

“It is a dream come true,” said Faldo. “As an amateur that was as good as it gets.”

Clarke, meanwhile, viewed the win as one which “saved our skins.”

It helped the European team to preserve its unbeaten run at the biennial competition.

Maguire became the first Ulsterwoman to wear the European Solheim Cup kit since 1939. Credit: Joe Klamar/AFP/AFP/Getty Images

Growing up, Maguire was one of those “mum and dad” children with a senior man in the family. Her father, Raymond Maguire, is a two-time British Open winner and a former European number one. Her mother, Pam, was an amateur champion at Derry Golf Club before setting up the Enterprise Services Group in 2004.

Aged 11, she won the Amateur World Championship in 2009. The following year, she finished third at the Curtis Cup which matches amateur players from the United States and Europe against each other.

“I played all my golf in Ireland, and it’s been great because it’s probably the toughest place to get results,” said Maguire.

Asked what she hopes to achieve in the US, she said: “The key point was not how good I was, but how good my team was.”

With her future bright, she believes her win in the Solheim Cup will give her the confidence she needs to perform well in the future.

“I think it will give me the right ammunition I need, because I am never going to turn my back on it,” she said.

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