Two Can Play This Game


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If someone asked you to name a talented young Irish player, chances are youd say, Rory McIlroy. However, ask the same question to a golf fan in the Emerald Isle and you might just get a different response. Let me introduce you to the McGuire twins, 14-year-old Leona and Lisa.
Leona is the reigning Scottish Ladies Amateur champion, French U21 champion and Irish Ladies champion, where she beat sister Lisa in the final. Lisas own trophy cabinet is by no means bare; she can boast the European Young Masters title, the Irish Girls Championship and the 2006 U.S. Kids Golf World Championship at Pinehurst. After a bumper 2008, the twins made their second trip to the U.S., representing Europe in the Junior Ryder Cup last year.
Perhaps, on a practical level at least, a more important partnership came at the Irish Schools Championship. The competition requires the best two of three scores but their school decided they didnt need a third (good decision) and Leona and Lisa cruised for the second straight year.
The school is a little more understanding about letting us travel for tournaments when we have won them a national title for two years says Leona, the more talkative of the two.
Thats not to say school work is ignored, parents Breda and Declan McGuire keep a watchful eye on the twins and both are teachers at the local primary school. The McGuires recently made a sensible move, enlisting the help of a family friend to deal with the media requests which are beginning to pile up. Word of these two young phenoms is beginning to spread.
The publicity will only grow and grow as the outside world begins to learn more about these two talented youngsters who took-up the game, quite literally, by accident. A competitive swimmer, Lisa McGuire suffered a broken elbow six years ago and in an effort to find a less rigorous past-time, Declan McGuire, a keen golfer in his younger days, took his girls to the local par 3 course. Just two years later they were entering top level amateur tournaments and Lisa was busy posting a course record 5 under at Athy in southern Ireland.
It still stands today she reassures me.
The pair are inseparable. We do most things together, says Leona. It's better for us to have someone to practice with, better to have someone to match yourself with. Leona admits theres a rivalry, albeit a healthy sibling rivalry, but that is no doubt part of the charm and a large part of why these two girls, from the Slieve Russell Hotel Golf and Country Club in County Cavan, Ireland, have become so good so fast.
Lisa and Leona first came to my attention at the 2007 Northern Ireland Ladies Open on the Ladies European Tour. At 12 years of age, the pair were given sponsor invitations, missed the cut but gained a lot from the experience. They met their idols, talked to the pros, chatted with the champion that week, Lisa Hall, whos husband Martin coached Morgan Pressel through her very successful teenage years. Next month, the McGuires will once again take to the big stage at the Portmarnock Hotel and Golf Links for the AIB Irish Ladies Open on the LET, itll be the perfect opportunity for them, and rest of us, to see exactly how they compare now with Europes elite women golfers.
The remainder of their teenage years will be pivotal in the development of their golf games. Will outside agencies garner some of their attention away from golf? Will they both be able to keep up this incredible pace? How much with growth and changes in their bodies have an impact on their golf swings and ultimately their scores?
Those are question that time will answer. For now, the twins have the same goal hopefully one day to play on the LET and LPGA tours. We still have four years of schooling left so we wont be turning professional before we turn 18. They echo almost in unison. These are sensible, well-raised, well-mannered young women. One senses they know their place in the game, know how much talent they have but certainly are not going to proclaim some sort of future world dominance. Theyll let the golf do the talking and right now that golf is talking a very bright future.
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