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Dublin: 11°C Friday 26 February 2021

'You'll see more of that in the future' - Maguire excited by mixed-gender European Tour event

Recently-confirmed LPGA golfer Leona Maguire was pleased to hear about the inaugural Scandinavian Mixed.

Leona Maguire at the US Open earlier this year.
Leona Maguire at the US Open earlier this year.
Image: PA Images.

ONE OF IRELAND’S two LPGA [Ladies Professional Golf Association] stars for 2020, Leona Maguire, is enthused by the prospect of a first-ever mixed-gender European Tour event taking place next year.

Organisers announced on Monday that the inaugural Scandinavian Mixed — a tournament featuring men and women competing against each other on the same course for the same prize — will be held in Sweden in June 2020.

Hosted by Swedish major winners Henrik Stenson and Annika Sorenstam, 78 men and 78 women will battle it out for a €1.5 million prize fund.

And Maguire, who recently sealed her LPGA Tour card to play in the world’s top female professional tournament alongside Stephanie Meadow, was delighted to hear of next year’s historic event.

“I think it’s really exciting,” the Cavan native, who secured her full LET [Ladies European Tour] card by Christmas 2018, told The42 in KPMG’s Dublin offices yesterday.

“Obviously having Annika [Sorenstam] and [Henrik] Stenson both involved is huge. I have to say Annika is probably one of the best to ever play the women’s game and Stenson is obviously a Major winner and Ryder Cup player. He’s been big to support the European Tour.

“Yeah, I think it will be a cool event. I’m not sure where it’s going to fit with my schedule.”

With another hectic season on the cards for herself, it’s looking like Rio 2016 Olympian Maguire will again fly the flag in Tokyo amidst her many other LPGA and LET commitments.

The 24-year-old is all for pushing for events like the groundbreaking Scandinavian Mixed, which sees the European Tour and LET partner.

It will provide world rankings points for both men and women, and follows in the footsteps of this year’s Jordan Mixed Open, which pitted players from the second-tier Challenge Tour, the LET and the European Seniors Tour against each other.

Maguire gives a few other examples, one of those the ISPS Handa World Invitational home favourite Meadow won at Galgorm Castle, Ballymena in August.

“Yeah, I think there’s definitely been a push to try and get a lot more of those events,” she continued. “The event at the Vic Open in Australia was side by side with the men’s, so was Morocco, so was Galgorm a few weeks ago.

“It seems like everybody enjoys those tournaments. It’s really good exposure for the women’s game, more TV coverage, everything like that.

EA3I8001_1 KPMG ambassador Leona Maguire. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

“That one [Scandinavian Mixed] will be a cool format in that they’re playing for the same prize money. It’s just one purse, so it will be interesting to see how it goes. It will be really important to get the tees right.

(There will be different tee positions – men played over 7,100 yards in Jordan, and the women over 6,139. But pin positions will be important, it’s understood, with the goal for pros to use the same clubs for approach shots.)

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“They did a run on in in Jordan this year when they did the Challenge and Senior Tour and the Ladies Tour. It went really well, it seemed like. I think it’s an exciting prospect.

And I think you’ll see a little bit more of that sort of thing in the future — two big European Tours working together, which is nice.

Maguire, an ambassador for the 20×20 campaign — which aims to increase media coverage, boost attendances and ultimately, grow involvement in female sport by 20% by the end of 2020 — added that she has definitely noticed a sea change one year into the landmark initiative.

“I definitely think there’s been a lot more coverage and I guess, more of a conscious shift towards it,” she said. “Companies like KPMG have been great and I’ve been very lucky with my sponsors right from the start of my pro career to get behind me.

Even in other sports… In golf, we’re lucky that the corporate world has always been involved but you have other sports then like the record attendance at the Irish women’s soccer game the other night, obviously the hockey team doing so well…

“It can only help to encourage young girls to stay in sport right through their teenage years, and not feel like they have to stop when they’re going into their Leaving Cert or secondary school, or stuff like that.

“It’s something that they can carry through throughout their lives.”

KPMG ambassador Leona Maguire, who has secured her playing card on the LPGA Tour for the 2020 season at her first attempt, joined KPMG Managing Partner, Seamus Hand, at their Dublin offices yesterday.

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Emma Duffy

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