Longevity is a foreign concept in women’s amateur golf, where if you haven’t turned pro before you turn 20, you feel like you’re being left behind. Which makes the news of Leona Maguire’s recent accomplishment all the more historic.
When the latest edition of the Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking was released on Wednesday, Maguire ranked No. 1 for the 131st time in her career, breaking the mark for the most number of weeks any player has claimed the top spot since the ranking was introduced in February 2011.
A 23-year-old senior at Duke by way of Ireland, Maguire eclipsed the record of 130 weeks previously held by Lydia Ko from April 2011 to October 2013. Maguire first held the No. 1 ranking May 2015 to May 2016, a span of 52 weeks, until she was overtaken by American Hannah O’Sullivan for 12 weeks that summer. Maguire grabbed the top ranking back in August 2016 and has held it for 79 straight weeks.
Maguire has previously led a contrarian amateur career. Set to turn professional after winning college player of the year honors as a freshman at Duke, she changed her mind and decided instead that she’d stay all four years with the Blue Devils before going pro. She earned national POY honors for a second time as a junior and won the Ladies British Amateur title last summer.
More intriguingly, Maguire easily advanced to the final stage of LPGA Q school as an amateur in 2016 and 2017. Each time, however, she decided against playing to keep herself from even facing the decision of playing well enough to have earned LPGA status but having to give up her amateur career on the spot in order to redeem it. (By getting through second stage of Q school, Maguire also wrapped up playing privileges on the Symetra Tour, where she intends to play after finishing her college career this spring.)
Maguire’s impressive amateur career has already included three appearances on the GB&I Curtis Cup team (her fourth will come in June, the most by any player from across the pond in the competition since Julie Hall played five straight times from 1988 to 1996). She’s played in five LPGA majors, making the cut in the 2015 Evian Championship (T-34) and in the 2016 Women’s British Open (T-25). She was one of three amateur golfers who qualified for the 2016 Olympics, finishing T-21 in Rio. And she is one of 11 players to ever claim the No. 1 women’s amateur ranking.