Golf has “a long way to go” when it comes to the difference in prize money on offer to men and women, according to Ireland’s first LPGA champion Leona Maguire.
The Cavan golfer became the first Irish woman to win on the LGPA tour on Saturday, with a magnificent final round of 67 at Florida’s Crown Colony on Saturday.
The seven-birdie round saw her clinch a three-shot victory over her nearest challenger Lexi Thompson – and her first win since joining the tour in 2018.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Maguire said she was “absolutely over the moon” with the win.
“It has been a long time dreaming about it and hoping it would happen and I am absolutely delighted that it’s finally here,” she said.
“I mean a lot of hard work has gone on behind the scenes. Obviously, my mam and dad have sacrificed a lot over the last 27 years and my sister Lisa has been a large part of the journey as has my brother Oran and my coach Shane who has been there from the very beginning.
“A lot of hard work goes on behind the scenes to make those moments all come together when they do.”
Maguire wasn’t the only Irish golfer to catch the eye this weekend, with Waterford’s Séamus Power putting in an eye-catching display to come home ninth at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
Power’s ninth place finish netter him $237,075 in prize money – slightly more than the $225,000 Maguire took home for her first tour win.
Maguire told Newstalk that she doesn’t focus on prize money when she is out there competing.
“I’m obviously not doing it for the money, I’m doing it because it’s what I love to do and I’m in an incredibly fortunate position,” she said. “But yeah we have a long way to go in terms of equal prize money – obviously tennis is probably the gold standard.”
Level playing field
She was full of praise of Power and what he achieved at Pebble Beach.
“What Seamus has been doing is fantastic and it’s great to see him being successful, but we would obviously like to see that gap narrow a little bit in the next while,” she said.
“What the men are earning has gone to astronomical levels. I don’t think we’ll ever get to a level playing field but obviously the goal is to get it as close as possible.
“The big thing as well is equal opportunity and equal access to funding, facilities and opportunity – which is huge for the next generation coming up.”
She said there has been a “little bit of a shift in the last couple of years” when it comes to the recognition of the achievements of Ireland’s sportswomen.
“Our female athletes have been achieving incredible things, with all the medals that were won in Tokyo last year and obviously what Rachel [Blackmore] is doing in horseracing,” she said.
“We have had phenomenal success and I think bit by bit there’s been more recognition and I think people are becoming more aware of it.
“Social media has obviously played a role in that and getting it on TV as well, letting people know how incredible these athletes are.
“We have a long way to go and we have come a long way but the better we do, the more people will rally behind us and appreciate what we’re doing.”
"Just getting started"
Maguire said she now has a “big year ahead” with the LPGA tour just getting into full swing.
“We’re only getting started,” she said. “That was only our second event of the year so lots more goals, lots more places to go, lots more events to play.
“Singapore and Thailand are next up for me in a couple of weeks so we’ll enjoy this win for a couple of days but get back to work pretty quickly and keep trying to make those small gains to put myself in contention as much as I can this year.”
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