They are as similar as two spanking new golf balls, right down to the
dimples. Ireland’s 15-year-old twins, Lisa and Leona Maguire, are set
to create much the same wow at this summer’s Curtis Cup as did Michelle
Wie in the match of 2004.
The Great Britain & Ireland team for Boston – the match is to be played at
historic Essex Country Club June 11-13 – will not be finalized until after
the Helen Holm Stroke Play at the end of April. But if it were chosen
tomorrow, the two would be at the top of most lists.
Mary McKenna, captain of GB&I and herself an Irishwoman, chuckles
delightedly when she talks of her young compatriots. “They’re
remarkable,” she says. “They’re just a couple of normal kids, but when
they’re out on the course, they’re like a couple of wily seniors.”
Roddy Carr, son of that legendary Walker Cup man Joe Carr, confirms as
much. “They’re the real deal.”
The twins were 9-year-old swimming champions when Lisa broke her
elbow and the specialist advised that she should try a racket sport by
way of helping to restore the joint’s original flexibility. The twins’
parents – primary school teachers Declan and Breda – drove
them to an appropriate sports club where the pair took absolutely no
interest in racket sports. They preferred golf.
“Nothing surprised me more than the fact that they got good so
quickly,” said Declan. By way of illustrating his point, he told how
the girls had only been playing a couple of seasons when Lisa won the
12-and-under World Juniors at Pinehurst. On an admittedly shortened
course, she was as many as 10-under par for one round as she followed
Rory McIlroy in making an impact on America’s pee-wee brigade.
No less uncanny than the degree to which the twins look alike is the
extent to which they have assembled a virtually matched set of results.
Take 2008, when they were still only 13. Where Leona won the Irish
Women’s Close championship and Lisa was runner-up, Lisa won the
Irish Girls’ championship and Leona was the runner-up.
Last year, Lisa won the Irish Closed and the Irish Stroke Play as her
sister came out on top in the European Girls’ individual championship
and the French Under 21s. On the team front, it was Leona who holed the
winning putt as Ireland defeated Sweden to seal Ireland’s first triumph
in the European Junior Team championships. Paired together in the
foursomes, as they might well be in Boston, the two won every match.
When Wie played her part in the ’04 U.S. victory at Formby, she was
already 6-foot tall – and 6-foot-4 by the time she had donned
the high heels she wore to the closing ceremony. The twins, on the
other hand, are still growing and have yet to reach their potential in
terms of driving distance. But already, as McKenna says, they are long
Their swings are alike in that they are so utterly simple as to make
the actions of others look slightly unwieldy. Lisa, of the two, maybe
swings the faster and is marginally the longer. Leona, meanwhile, is
reckoned to have a tad more touch on and around the greens.
At a time when all too many teenagers in the U.K. would seem to be under
the impression that one good result is the signal to drop everything
and join the professionals, the pair are serving as the best possible
role models. Both go along with their parents’ belief that education
has to come first and both are out to collect the best possible haul of
Neither likes to take time off from school, though, in the case of this
Curtis Cup, they have sought – and been granted – permission from the
Irish Education Board to play “if selected.” To be honest, there is no
“if” about it.
Those who like to see golfers bursting with joie de vivre on the golf
course might be disappointed when they see the twins holing 20-footers
with much the same nonchalance as another might post a letter.
However, the fact that they are not remotely extroverted maybe goes a
long way toward explaining how they have managed to stay on the right side
of their golfing elders – and that though they spent their first few
years clearing local prize tables of all the Waterford glass and china
With golf itself mostly more about seniors than juniors, it goes
without saying that people have worried lest the twins could have
missed out on something of their childhoods. Indeed, Anne Wallace, the
former president of the Irish Ladies’ Golf Union, fell into that
category as she watched the pair playing in the Irish Closed at Lahinch
She was still pondering on the matter as she walked back to the car
park where she heard a variety of squeaks and squeals coming from the
sand dunes. It was the soon-to-be crowned Irish Ladies’ champion and
her runner-up cascading down the sandy slopes on their backsides.
That was the moment when Wallace stopped worrying.