The Irish Open returns for the first time in 10 years, spearheaded by national hero Leona Maguire and backed by KPMG

The Irish Open returns for the first time in 10 years, spearheaded by national hero Leona Maguire and backed by KPMG

It’s been 10 years since the Irish Open was last held, and it’s no coincidence that the return of the event coincides with the rise of a true Irish star in Leona Maguire. Currently No. 18 in the world, Maguire has begun to fulfill the promise she showed as an amateur with her standout performance at the 2021 Solheim Cup and her first LPGA Drive On win earlier this year.

Maguire’s home town of Cavan staged a parade in his honor when he returned to Irish soil after last year’s Solheim. The 27-year-old Duke graduate became the first Irish player to win on the LPGA, and now her personal sponsor, KPMG, is her National Open title sponsor.

KPMG’s influence on the women’s game ranges from title sponsorship of one of the LPGA’s five majors to sponsorship of the Irish Kids Golf Tour, which is open to boys and girls up to 13 years of age. They also financially support the LPGA’s revitalized statistics system.

“It was always a big event when it was on the calendar a few years ago,” Maguire said of the Irish, “and it’s taken 10 years, but it’s taken a lot of planning and organization, and I hope this can turn into a big event in the LET calendar for a long time”.

Maguire and her twin sister Lisa played as amateurs at the Irish Open from 2009 to 2012 at Portmarnock and Killeen Castle. Leona was 15 years old the first time she played at the Irish Open and was paired with Dame Laura Davies, which she called intimidating.

“She was hitting that 2-iron of hers everywhere,” Maguire said, “and I was trying to hit my driver within 40 yards of him.”

Catriona Matthew, Maguire’s Solheim Cup captain last year, won the Irish in 2012 by a single stroke over Suzann Pettersen and will compete alongside Maguire this week in the first two rounds at Dromoland Castle. Matthew was also on the Solheim European Cup winning team at Killeen in 2011.

“I played the full 18 now in the pro-am and I think it’s going to be a tough golf course,” said Matthew. “The first nine are tough off the tee and the greens are tough. I’m really looking forward to it and there’s a lot of buzz about the tournament and it looks like we’re going to have some good crowds.”

Linn Grant, a four-time LET winner this season, highlights another standout pairing along with promising 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.

The story originally appeared on GolfWeek

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