Leona Maguire targets Paris Olympics: ‘I’m absolutely pushing for another opportunity to compete’

Leona Maguire has set her sights on a third Olympic Games, saying she is “absolutely pushing for another opportunity to compete and represent my country”.

The Cavan woman previously represented Team Ireland at the Rio Games in 2016, which marked golf’s return to the Olympic roster, and again at the delayed Games in Tokyo in 2021.

“Another appearance at the Olympics is definitely something I’m striving for.

“Representing my country in both Rio and Tokyo were true highlights, and the opportunity to compete alongside the world’s best athletes and to represent my country on such a prestigious platform is a dream come true for any athlete.”

In golf’s somewhat confusing qualification system, 60 players will qualify for the Games based on their World Ranking, with limits on the number of golfers who can qualify from each country.

But to the point, both Maguire and Stephanie Meadow are currently on track to make it to Paris this summer, sitting at 21st and 33rd in the Olympic Golf Rankings.

“The atmosphere and energy surrounding the Olympics are unlike anything else in sports,” Maguire recalls.

Maguire previously represented Team Ireland at the Rio and Tokyo Games. Photo: Getty Images

“The Olympics hold a special place in the hearts of athletes, and I would be honored to have the chance to once again be part of this prestigious event.”

But the 29-year-old isn’t sitting idle while she waits for that call to come, as she’s already seven events into this year’s LPGA Tour.

Thirty-three official and three unofficial events are on this year’s Tour calendar. Having begun in Florida at the end of January, the schedule is taking the golfers across North America, Asia and Europe, ending up back in Florida for the final event at the end of November.

It’s a gruelling schedule, but while Maguire admits it can be challenging to maintain peak performance week after week, particularly with the amount of travel involved, she looks to the positives.

“Having more competitions provides more opportunities to compete, hone my skills, and hopefully achieve success on the course,” she says, adding: “It allows me to stay in a competitive mindset and maintain my rhythm throughout the season.”

This year is also a historic one for the LPGA Tour as it sees its total prize fund reach its highest amount (over $116 million) to date.

While money isn’t the only marker of success for the women’s game, Maguire says the record purse is a “significant milestone” as it “signifies the continued growth and recognition of women’s golf on a global scale”.

“As professional golfers, we dedicate our lives to our craft, and having the opportunity to compete for a larger prize purse not only reflects the hard work and talent of the players, but also demonstrates the increasing value and interest in women’s golf.”

She adds: “The rising prize pot serves as motivation and validation for players like myself, who have dedicated ourselves to the pursuit of excellence in the sport.

“It reinforces the idea that our contributions to the game are valued, and that our performances are being rewarded at a higher level than ever before.”

BWM are among the sponsers for this year’s KPMG Irish Open, which will be staged at Carton House in Co Kildare.

And that interest in women’s golf is certainly being felt here at home, with over 30,000 spectators descending on Dromoland Castle for last year’s KPMG Women’s Irish Open, with BWM coming on board as sponsor.

This year’s event (August 28th to September 1st) will cross the country to Carton House in Co Kildare, making its way back onto the Ladies European Tour (LET) calendar, which Maguire says “adds a special dimension to the occasion”.

“Having the Irish Open as part of the LET schedule not only provides additional opportunities for female golfers to compete at a high level, but also helps showcase their talent and skills to Irish fans.

“It’s a chance for fans to see some of the world’s best female golfers in action and to showcase the talent, skill, and passion that women bring to the game while also inspiring the next generation of female golfers,” she adds.

And for that future generation of Irish golfers, Maguire says the landscape has certainly changed for the better.

“There has been a growing recognition of the importance of supporting girls and women in golf.

“The visibility of female role models in golf is key, both on the professional circuit and within local communities, and plays a crucial role in encouraging girls and women to get involved in the sport.

“For young Irish golfers, seeing successful female golfers at events like the Irish Open, who they can relate to and aspire to emulate, helps break down barriers and stereotypes and fosters a sense of belonging and empowerment,” she adds.

Sourse: breakingnews.ie

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