Amateur sensation Leona Maguire, right, will chalk up another highlight in her fledgling career when she tees off in the Rio Olympics.
And she won’t just be making up the numbers according to her long-time coach Shane O’Grady.
The hugely respected Black Bush Golf Club pro believes the talented Maguire has all the ingredients to challenge the sport’s biggest names for a medal, including World No.1 Lydia Ko.
“Golf is golf, it’s all about on the day and she is more than good enough,” said O’Grady who is a PGA Advanced Fellow Professional.
“And it’s a limited field of only 60 and she has already performed well in majors.
“I caddied for Leona at Mission Hills earlier this year and watching her next to the others, I realised just how good she is. It’s just a matter of getting out there and the more she does it, the more she will climb the rankings.”
Maguire will have her twin sister Lisa, left, on the bag and will be out in the very first group as she attempts to win a medal on golf’s return to the Olympics for the first time in 112 years.
O’Grady admits it’s been a rollercoaster ride coaching the twins and this latest chapter is one of the most exciting yet.
“It has been a fun 11 or 12 years working with both Leona and Lisa – it’s been an interesting journey and qualifying for the Olympics has been one of her goals for the last three or four years.
“They had their first practice round on Sunday and had another yesterday and they are both really excited.
“We will all be eagerly following her progress. I think Justin Rose’s success has heightened the profile and I’m sure a lot of the guys that didn’t go will be disappointed they missed out.
“Golf’s exposure at the Olympics has to be good for the game. Justin Rose was talking about meeting the other athletes and the inspiration he gained and it will be the same for Leona.
“I’m sure they will get the same positive vibe from being with other athletes plus team captain Paul McGinley who as an inspirational Ryder Cup captain is second to none.”
Maguire, who attends Duke University in America, this week captured the Mark McCormack award for the second year running as the leading women’s player in the World Amateur Golf Ranking and thanked O’Grady among others.
“I am so excited to play and represent my country in the Olympics this week,” said Maguire.
“Earning the medal gives me extra confidence, given how strong amateur golf is right now, as I prepare for the event.”
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