Leona Maguire wins Sportswoman of the Month award

The Irish Times/Sport Ireland Sportswoman Award for May: Leona Maguire (Golf)

It was, remarkably enough, 10 years ago last month that Leona Maguire collected the first of her many Irish Times Sportswoman of the Month awards. It’s only when you do a double-take on her current age – 22 – that you recall what extraordinary prodigies she and her twin sister Lisa were.

There are, of course, always misgivings about putting the spotlight on ones so young, but those who know their golf were in little doubt that they could realise their potential.

And Leona is doing it in spectacular style, the Cavan golfer sitting top of the world amateur rankings for most of the last two years.

In May, she quite probably lost count of the number of awards she received after an outstanding season with Duke University during which she won three of her 10 events and never finished outside the top six. In all, she has now represented Duke in 30 tournaments since 2014 and has produced 26 top-10 finishes.

Whoever looks after her ‘Bio’ on Duke’s website deserves an award themselves, the list of Maguire’s record-breaking achievements since her debut season simply staggering.

Her form in the season just ended won her the college Golfer of the Year, USA Women’s Golf Coaches Association National Player of the Year and the Annika Award, all for the second time.

And she became the first player to win the Annika Award twice, that accolade honouring ‘the most outstanding female Division I collegiate golfer’, its panel of judges including her peers, coaches and members of the golf media. She made their job easy.

“She has an amazing future ahead of her and I’m certainly very proud to have her win again,” said Annika Sorenstam, the Swedish golfing legend after whom the award is named. “I think she has done a lot for college golf and it is nice to see her continue to stay an amateur for a little longer.”

That was a reference to Maguire opting last year to postpone her switch to the professional game so that she can complete her Psychology, Business and Accounting degree at Duke, having been just one stage away from securing her card for the tour. Instead, she aims to graduate from the North Carolina college in the summer of 2018, and then embark on her professional career.

It will, it’s probably safe to assume, be a glittering career too if her progress to date is anything to go by. Quite how she stores all the awards, though, is the mystery. She has this one now to add to her collection.