Leona Maguire named Irish Golf Writers’ player of the year

Different Strokes: Tiger and Charlie; word of mouth, in the bag, by the numbers and more

A standout player for Europe at the Solheim Cup, and the standout Irish professional golfer of 2021, Leona Maguire has been named as the recipient of the Irish Golf Writers’ Association Professional Player of the Year, only the second woman in the awards’ 45 years history to achieve the honour.

In a year where Séamus Power made a breakthrough win on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy was a two-time winner on that circuit, Maguire’s accomplishments - unbeaten with four and a half points from a possible five in Europe’s win over the United States in the Solheim Cup at the Inverness Club in Toledo to go with two runners-up finishes on the LPGA Tour - saw her add the professional award to four amateur awards.

“The Solheim Cup was the highlight, it is probably the highlight of my career so far I would say,” said Maguire of a year when she also secured two runner-up finishes - to Lydia Ko in the Lotte Championship and to Nelly Korda in the Meijer Classic - in claiming five top-10 finishes on the LPGA Tour.

Maguire also secured a record-equalling low round in a Major - by men or women - when she shot a final round 61 in the Evian Championship, en route to a sixth placed finish.


The only previous woman winner was Stephanie Meadow, who earned the accolade in 2018.

Corkman Peter O’Keeffe was selected as the Men’s Amateur Player of the Year, after becoming the first player since Padraig Harrington in 1995 to win both the Irish Close and Irish Amateur Open in the same year, while Lauren Walsh - from Castlewarden Golf Club and a student at Wake Forest - earned the Women’s Amateur Player of the Year.

Michael McCumiskey, who retired in May as head of the PGA in Ireland after 35 years in the position, was named as the recipient of the Distinguished Services award.

Thai teenager scaling the heights

While many golfing eyes were on Charlie Woods this past weekend, another young man was doing it for real on the All Thailand Golf Tour.

Ratchanon Chantananuwat - a 14-year-old Thai prodigy - finished third behind Kiradech Aphibarnrat in the Singha Thailand Masters, which had the effect of jumping him to 657th in the official world rankings. In doing so, he became the youngest male golfer ever to climb inside the top-700.

Only two weeks ago, competing in back-to-back weeks in the Phuket Championships on the Asian Tour, the teenage amateur had finished tied-15th and tied-30th. A name for the future, for sure!

Word of mouth

“The competitive juices, they are never going to go away. This is my environment. This is what I’ve done my entire life. I’m just so thankful to be able to have this opportunity to do it again. Earlier this year was not a very good start to the year and it didn’t look very good. But the last few weeks, to push as hard as we have the last seven months with taking no days off and just working our butts off each and every day, and to have this opportunity to be able to play with my son and to have these memories, for us, for both of us, our lifetime, it’s worth all the pain” - Tiger Woods on getting the competitive juices flowing alongside his 12-year-old son Charlie in the PNC Championship where they finished runners-up to John Daly and son Little John.

By the numbers

1: Olivia Mehaffey missed out on a full Ladies European Tour card for 2022 by just one stroke, after a closing round 73 for a total of 363 in the five rounds marathon which concluded Monday at La Manga in Spain. The Northern Irishwoman heartbreakingly finished bogey-double bogey to miss out on a full tour card. However, her tied-24th place finish will give her conditional Category 15 status on the LET, while she also has a status on the Symetra Tour in the USA. The Q-School was won by American Gabriella Then.

Twitter Twaddle

Such an amazing week with my pops at the @PNCchampionship A week where the only (well, mostly) care is about having fun with your partner. It’s a GREAT way to end the year and so glad we have taken part! Congrats to @PGA_JohnDaly and Little John on the W!” - Justin Thomas tips his cap to the Dalys.

I was asked about Tiger being inducted into golf’s Hall of Fame and what the biggest influence he has had on the game. Tiger changed people’s perception of golf from a game to a sport - Pádraig Harrington nails it.

Very excited to bring the Scottish Challenge back onto the schedule and look forward to the week - former Claret Jug holder Paul Lawrie on getting behind the Scottish event on the Challenge Tour which will be held in late May. The Irish Challenge has been given a July 28th-31st slot in the itinerary, with the venue yet to be determined.

In the Bag

John Daly & John Daly II, PNC Championship winners

Big John

Driver - Tour Edge Exotics C721 (9.5 degrees)

3-wood -Tour Edge Exotics EXS Pro (13.5 degrees)

Hybrids - Tour Edge Exotics EXS Pro (16 and 20 degrees)

Irons - Tour Edge Exotics EXS 220 Ti-Utility (3), Tour Edge Exotics EXS Blade (5-9)

Wedges - Tour Edge Exotics EXS Blade (50, 54 and 60 degrees)

Putter - Scotty Cameron Select Fastback 1.5

Little John

Driver - Ping G425 LST (9 degrees)

3-wood - TaylorMade SIM2 Titanium Rocket 3 (13.5 degrees)

Irons - TaylorMade P790 (3), TaylorMade P7MC (4-PW)

Wedges - Taylormade MG2 (50, 56 and 60 degrees)

Putter - Scotty Cameron Futura T5W

Know the Rules

Q: In foursomes matchplay, a player whose turn it is to play plays first from the tee and then his partner plays from the tee as though it is a fourball event. What is the ruling?

A: Effectively, the side has proceeded under penalty of stroke and distance, and the second ball played from the tee is now the ball in play. Such a situation is covered under Rule 18.1 and the side's next stroke will be its fourth.