Twins set for PING Junior Solheim Cup

Lisa and Leona on their way home!

Twins set for PING Junior Solheim Cup

Lisa Maguire moved a significant step closer to earning a place in the European team for this year’s PING Junior Solheim Cup when she defeated French teenager Emilie Alonso by one hole in the final of the Spanish International Ladies Amateur Championship at Sherry Golf, Jerez de la Frontera.

The 16-year-old’s victory gave her 80 points and an early lead on the official qualifying list for this year’s match-up, to be played in her home country at Knightsbrook, Ireland, on September 20 and 21.

And she could well be joined in the team by her twin sister, Leona, who is currently in third place on the official ranking after claiming a share of third in the stroke play stages at Sherry Golf before losing out by 6&4 to Alonso in the quarter finals of the subsequent matchplay series.

“I am absolutely thrilled,” Lisa told the Belfast Telegraph. “It was a terrific match and I really had to hold my nerve.”

Both Maguire twins, from Slieve Russell, made their PING Junior Solheim Cup debuts as 14-year-olds during the USA’s 15½ - 8½ victory over Europe in the 2009 match at Aurora Golf Club in Illinois.

The Maguire sisters are widely regarded as two of Europe’s leading amateurs and they lived up to that reputation with fine performances at Sherry Golf in what was the first of seven official qualifying events for this year’s PING Junior Solheim Cup.

The pair will be looking to consolidate their places at the next qualifying event, the Irish Girls U18 Championship, at Knightsbrook on April 9 and 10.

The top six players on the PING Junior Solheim Cup ranking at the end of the final qualifying event - the Girls British Open Amateur Championship at Gullane on August 8 to 12 - will earn automatic places in Europe’s side to face the Americans in what is the sixth match in a series stretching back to 2002. A further six wild card players will be selected before August 15.

Leona, who arrived in Spain as No.5 on the official Women’s World Amateur Golf Rankings after a remarkable 15-stroke victory in this year’s Portuguese Ladies Amateur Championship, posted rounds of 74 and 72 to finish behind France’s Ines Lescudier and Vicki Troeltsch in the stroke play stages.

She went on to defeat Spaniard Mandy Goyos and France’s Alexandra Bonetti in the matchplay stages before losing heavily to Alonso two days later.

It was left to Lisa to gain revenge on behalf of her twin. She needed 21 holes to defeat compatriot Danielle McVeigh in the opening round but then crushed France’s Luna Sobrón 6&4 before edging out fellow Curtis Cup team member Holly Clyburn on the 21st having never been ahead until the third extra hole.

In the semi-finals the eventual winner defeated Germany’s Antonio Scherer 5&3 before claiming the title after an engrossing final against Alonso in which there was never more than one hole between the two.

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