AMATEUR CHAMPIONSHIPS
Five Questions: McCormack Medal Winner Leona Maguire November 13, 2015 | Far Hills, N.J. By David Shefter, USGA

Leona Maguire was awarded the Mark H. McCormack Medal for being the world's top-ranked women's amateur in 2015. (USGA/Russell Kirk)

In August, Duke University sophomore Leona Maguire, 20, of the Republic of Ireland, added to her long list of accomplishments by winning the 2015 Mark H. McCormack Medal as the leading female amateur in the World Amateur Golf Ranking™. Maguire, who at the age of 15 was the youngest (along with twin sister Lisa) to ever represent Great Britain and Ireland in the biennial Curtis Cup Match (2010), won three college tournaments in her freshman season and was the recipient of the second Annika Award as the nation’s best player.

She also came within a stroke of winning the ISPS HANDA Ladies European Masters at Buckinghamshire Golf Club on the Ladies European Tour. And she was the leading qualifier after the stroke-play stage of the Ladies British Open Amateur Championship at Portstewart Golf Club in Northern Ireland, where she fell in the Round of 16.

As 2016 approaches, Maguire was asked to name her top five goals for the next year.

1. Repeat as Atlantic Coast Conference champion. One of Maguire’s three titles as a freshman came in this event in a playoff over Brianna Mao of Virginia at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, N.C. But this year she would also like to help Duke win the team championship, as the Blue Devils came up 26 strokes shy of Virginia’s record-setting total of 27-under 837.

2. Win the NCAA title. While Maguire was the national player of the year, she came up short in her bid to win the individual title at Concession Golf Club in Bradenton, Fla. In 2016, the NCAAs will be played at Eugene (Ore.) Country Club, where both Maguire and the Blue Devils hope to sweep both the individual and team titles.

3. Compete in the Curtis Cup Match in her home country. This would be Maguire’s third appearance in the biennial team competition, but with the Match set for Dun Laoghaire Golf Club in Dublin, Maguire would get a rare chance to play in front of the “home” crowd. Maguire, then 15, competed with twin sister, Lisa, in 2010 at Essex County Club outside of Boston and was on GB&I’s victorious 2012 Team sans Lisa at The Nairn Golf Club in Scotland. She did not play in the 2014 competition at St. Louis Country Club.

4. First U.S. Women’s Open. Winning the McCormack Medal brings about some special invitations, including an exemption into the U.S. Women’s Open, provided the golfer is still an amateur. Maguire has played in two previous major championships: the 2012 Women’s British Open (missed cut) and the 2015 Evian Championship (T-34). Now she’ll get to tee it up at CordeValle in San Martin, Calif., in what is arguably the biggest championship in women’s golf.

5Qualifying for the Rio Olympics. A good showing at the U.S. Women’s Open could land Maguire a trip to Rio de Janeiro, where golf returns to the Olympic program for the first time since 1904. Maguire is the top player – amateur or professional – in the Republic of Ireland, and as of Nov. 9, her Rolex Women’s Golf Ranking of 287 would have her in the field. All players within the top 15 are eligible, but a country can only have a maximum of four representatives per gender, with a maximum of two for countries that don’t have more than two in the top 15.

David Shefter is a senior staff writer for the USGA. Email him at dshefter@usga.org.

More from the USGA