November 11, 2021
Belleair, Florida, USA
Pelican Golf Club
Q. Just an incredible round today; tournament record; bogey-free 62 to lead here. How would you describe the round today?
LEONA MAGUIRE: Yeah, I mean, it was pretty stress-free. I think I played the par-3s really well and birdied all of them, which really helped.
Yeah, it was just really, really solid. Hit a lot of greens, gave myself a lot of chances, and rolled some nice putts.
Q. When we spoke earlier today you told me you have put in some time working on your game ahead of this week. What specifically were you working on?
LEONA MAGUIRE: Yeah, I mean, I didn't hit my irons very well in Korea. I really struggled with the grasses, so it's nice to be back on bermuda again for a few weeks.
Actually put a 6-hybrid in the bag this week. Did some work with Scott earlier in the week and put that in and nearly had a hole in one on 3 with it today.
So, yeah, made a little adjustment to my 9-wood too and made a birdie with that on 15, so I knew I wasn't far away. My coach, Shane, is with me also this week. He hasn't been out in two years, so it's been nice having him here.
And, yeah, it's all just clicking nicely.
Q. This isn't first time we've seen you at the top of the leaderboard this season. Five Top 10s this year. What do you feel like you learned from those experience that can help you over these next three days?
LEONA MAGUIRE: Yeah, I think I just being more comfortable in these sort of pairings. Obviously Sei Young and Lexi are two of the best players in world. Sei Young got off to a hot start. She knows how to play this golf course well. So just a case of trying to hang on and ride her momentum a little bit, and Lexi as well.
Yeah, just believing in myself just playing my own game and doing what I do best.
Q. Stress-free 8-under 62 today. You made it look pretty simple. Take us through the round and how you managed to accomplish that today, a great tournament scoring record.
LEONA MAGUIRE: Yeah, I hit a lot of greens and holed some nice putts. Probably the best I've drove it in quite a while. Had a lot of control over my golf ball today, which I feel like is key on this golf course just the way the greens are.
They're definitely more receptive than last year, so nice to be able to go at a few more pins. Few tees moved up today, so taking advantage of that as well.
Q. You played with Sei Young and Lexi, both good scores there as well. Sei Young got off to a good start; winner here last year. Did you learn anything from Sei Young about this course and how to attack it early on? Did you take anything away from what she was doing?
LEONA MAGUIRE: Yeah, I mean, she had pretty much a perfect start, birdied the three holes. I was just trying to sort of keep up with her. I mean, she's a great player. She hits it really solid, hits a lot of greens, putts really nice.
Yeah, I mean, that's what you have to do to play well out there. You just have to hit good shots. There is a few tucked pins, and just hit some nice shots, yeah.
Q. Proximity to the hole is incredibly important because of the undulations in the green. How are you able to get it on the right side of the hole and to hit it close?
LEONA MAGUIRE: Yeah, I think I just had -- I suppose over the last two weeks I've worked on my irons a lot. I was kind of overdrawing it a little bit the last few weeks and in Korea.
Yeah, just getting that neutral ball flight back in. I play my best when I have little or no shape on my ball, so getting back to that. That's been good here. Being able to hit it in those right sections of the greens, and even when I slightly missed the green it was still a pretty simple two-putt.
Q. The last time we saw you play like this was Solheim Cup. Now obviously that's match play, so it's entirely different. Same feeling with your game?
LEONA MAGUIRE: Yeah, I mean, I think I -- like I said, trying to give myself as many chances as possible. I like fast greens. These greens are really fast this week. Like you said, Inverness was probably the last really fast greens we played on. Holed some nice putts there. Was rolling it well.
Just feeling more and more comfortable every week I guess.
Q. Our understanding is your coach is here; is that correct? First time in how long?
LEONA MAGUIRE: First time in two years, yeah, with COVID, and then he wasn't able to travel. The last time he saw me was the second last Symetra event before I got my card in 2019, so it's nice to have him here.
He was with me last week for a few days getting ready for this. And then just seeing me in a golf tournament. He's seen snippets of me obviously on TV here and there and trying to pick up what he can, do video work. I been home a few times. It's been a challenge, but, yeah, we've done the best we can.
It's nice to have him here and picking out a few things, even to help this week, but more so to help in the off-season for next year.
Q. What has he said to you that's kind of been the thing that may be the key for where you are now?
LEONA MAGUIRE: Yeah, I mean, keeping it simple. There has been no major surgery on my swing. Just going back to basics really. Making sure my alignment, my setup is good. Taking that a little bit of draw out of the ball that sort of crept in.
Q. And what is his name?
LEONA MAGUIRE: Shane O'Grady.
Q. How much did Solheim change the way you view yourself as a player, or did it at all?
LEONA MAGUIRE: I mean, obviously Solheim, it's a team event, a match play event; it's a little bit different. I think I guess I was a little bit surprised by how much confidence Beany had in me and the captains and my teammates as well.
Obviously that's a confidence booster when you have the validation of your peers as well. But also being able to hit those shots when I needed it. I felt like I holed putts when I really needed to at Solheim, hit those shots.
So, yeah, I mean, any time you play with the best players in the world you try and pick up from them, learn from them. It was nice to be in that team environment again. I had missed that from Duke. It almost felt like I was back in college again in Solheim. I suppose trying to get back to that mentality like a little bit.
Q. What was the party like in Ireland when you got home?
LEONA MAGUIRE: Oh, I mean, it was incredible. Nothing like I was expecting. I went through my hometown in a convertible gold BMW with a LEONA license plate.
Q. Was there a parade?
LEONA MAGUIRE: Yeah, it was basically like St. Patrick's Day in Ireland. I guess it timed nicely with the COVID restrictions lifting. I think for me it was -- the best part was seeing people happy and excited again. I brought a smile and joy to so many people.
We had minimal crowds in Toledo, but we knew people were following along on social media, at home. Yeah, the response at home was phenomenal. People that never normally watch golf, people that normally never watch women's golf. Yeah, I mean, it was nothing like I've ever experienced before.
I suppose it was nice for my family, the fact that they didn't make it over to Toledo, but they could sort of share it with all their friends and family at home as well.
Q. How big is your town?
LEONA MAGUIRE: Not very big. There is one stop light. I suppose probably like, I don't know, 5,000 people maybe.
Q. So the whole town basically out for the parade?
LEONA MAGUIRE: Yeah, like they said, though know I'm a golfer; they don't really know what it entails.
For them to see me compete, they kind of understood I guess what I do now a little bit, but it was nice to see them excited about golf, and hopefully there is a few young girls and boys in Ireland that have taken up golf because of that.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports