No rest for Leona Maguire and her Major aspirations

27-year-old now a winner on the LPGA Tour and exempt for all five of this year’s Majors

Leona Maguire’s work ethic is such that there is always something to do. With her historic, breakthrough win in the LPGA Drive On Championship accomplished, the 27-year-old from Co Cavan will return to tournament play next month with the intention to continue improving.

As she put it of her own game: “We still have a few things to work on, it’s by no means perfect.”

That the player should especially identify failing to sink a few more birdie putts down the stretch in conquering all-comers at Fort Myers was especially interesting, given that Maguire’s statistics on the LPGA Tour this season show that she currently leads the putting greens in regulation category and is third in the putting average category, averaging 27.71 putts per round.

So, you just know that Maguire won’t be resting on any laurels or be having any intentions of standing still. That’s just not her, never has been.

Maguire's win was something that many of her peers knew was coming. As Lexi Thompson, an 11-time winner on the LPGA Tour, who played a lot of junior golf with the Irishwoman before each taking different routes into the paid ranks, the American turning pro at aged 15 and Maguire waiting until after completing her university education, observed: "[Leona's] such an amazing player . . . [this win is] definitely well deserved. I think it will help her out a lot. She's an amazing talent."

With the win moving Maguire into the world’s top-20 on the Rolex rankings, it is only natural that the next step in career progression should include eyeing up a Major championship.

For the first time in her career, Maguire is exempt into all five of the women’s Majors this season – the Chevron Championship (formerly the ANA Inspiration), the US Open, the KPMG US Women’s PGA Championship, the Evian Championship and the AIG Women’s Open – and, indeed, doesn’t have to wait long to get into that quest. The Chevron takes place at Rancho Mirage in California next month.

As it happens, Maguire has already built up quite a lot of Major experience, going back to her amateur days, in fact, when she played in four of them (the exception being the professional-only KPMG PGA). And, indeed, she has form, not least that record low closing round 61 in the Evian last year when she finished tied-sixth, her best result in a Major. She has top-20 finishes in the Chevron, the KPMG PGA and the AIG Women’s Open too, with the US Women’s Open the exception (three missed cuts in three).

Before getting to the Chevron, the first of the Majors, Maguire will have a further three tournaments under her belt, back-to-back events in Asia, in Singapore and Thailand, and another event in Carlsbad in California.

Meanwhile, Séamus Power – who has moved to 46th from 50th in the updated world rankings following his tied-ninth place finish in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am – will look to continue his strong form when he competes in the WM Phoenix Open this week.

Power is one of two Irish players in the field in the desert, with Graeme McDowell aiming to bounce back after missing the cut in the Saudi International.

Pádraig Harrington's three-week run in the Middle East – where he finished tied-20th, tied-ninth and tied-27th in moving up to 137 in the latest world rankings – has come to an end, with the 50-year-old Dubliner deciding not to play in this week's Ras al Khaimah Classic on the same course as Nicolai Hojgaard won last week's tournament.

There are two Irish players in the field in the UAE, with Jonathan Caldwell and Cormac Sharvin competing.

What’s next up for Leona Maguire

March 3rd-6th: HSBC World Championship, Sentosa, Singapore

March 10th-13th: Honda LPGA Thailand Championship, Chonburi, Thailand

March 24th-27th: JTBC Classic, Carlsbad, California

*March 31st-April 3rd: The Chevron Championship, Rancho Mirage, California

April 13th-16th: Lotte Championship, Hawaii

April 21st-24th: JTBC LA Open, Los Angeles, California

April 28th-May 1st: JTBC Championship, Palos Verdes, California

May 12th-15th: The Cognizant Founders Cup, New Jersey

May 25th-29th: Bank of Hope Matchplay, Las Vegas, Nevada

*June 2nd-5th: US Open, Pine Needles, North Carolina

*indicates Major Championship