Thursday, May 14, 2009


So, the two sisters are destined to battle it out again. I'm not excluding any of the other competitors - with golfers from the likes of Baltray and Enniscrone there will be a mighty tournament over one of Ireland's most glamorous parklands - but the Maguire sisters capture the imagination like nothing else. Their age, relationship and abilities make for a fascinating battle, and will do for years to come.

Imagine if women's golf was given the same TV coverage and hype as women's tennis (the Williams sisters...) - the Maguire sisters would be an even bigger phenomenon than they already are. If you're in the neighbourhood, why not drop in and enjoy some great golf and the superb facilities of Fota Island.

16 – 20 MAY 2009

Leona Maguire (Slieve Russell) defends her Lancôme Irish Womens Close Championship title when competitors tee off at Fota Island Golf Resort, Saturday 16 to Wednesday 20 May 2009.

As hot favourite to capture this year’s title, Leona has made a remarkable start to the 2009 season winning every event she has entered to date. In late March, she captured the inaugural Woodenbridge Scratch Cup, followed by the French Under 21 Championship at the start of April. A week later, the prestigious Helen Holm Scottish Strokeplay Championship title followed along with boosting Ulster to a fifth successive win in the Girls’ Interprovincials. The month ended with an emphatic victory in the Irish Schools Championships when she partnered her twin sister Lisa to glory for Loreto College, Cavan.

Lisa will be looking to stop her sister in her tracks and prevent a repeat of last year’s performance which saw her finish runner-up. She too has made a solid start to 2009 finishing third at the Helen Holm and will be looking to claim her first piece of silverware of the season when the Championship tees off on May 16th.

Other players keen to capture the coveted crown will be previous champions Deirdre Smith (Co. Louth) and Karen Delaney (Carlow), as well as internationals Niamh Kitching (Claremorris), Gillian O’Leary (Cork), Dawn Marie Conaty (Ashbourne) and Victoria Bradshaw (Bangor). There is also a host of junior internationals in the field, including the in- form Emma O’Driscoll (Ballybunion) and Laura McCarthy (Muskerry) with the talented Patrice Delaney (Birr) and Sarah Helly (Enniscrone) hot on their heels.

With valuable Order of Merit points on offer, all competitors will be looking to impress the Irish selectors ahead of next month’s announcement of the team of four to play in the Under-18 European Team Championships in Finland and the team of six to play in the Ladies European Team Championships in Slovenia, both 7-11 July.

The Championship begins Saturday May 16 with the first round of the Leitrim Cup, a 36-hole qualifying strokeplay event. Sunday sees the completion of round two after which the leading 32 players will go into the Championship Draw on Monday, concluding Wednesday morning. Those in position 33 thru 48 qualify for the Ita Wallace Trophy.

The Lancôme Irish Ladies’ Close was first played in 1894, just one year after the foundation of the Irish Ladies’ Golf Union, the oldest national union or association in ladies’ golf. 2009 sees another consecutive year’s hosting of the event, excluding the war years.

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