From absentee to fighter for the USA in Solheim Cup

One week after the women’s Solheim Cup provided another chapter in the story of curtailed expectations for a team filled with little-known names, Maguire stepped to the podium in Germany and helped turn the story on its head.

Even before Maguire strode into the grandstands of the girls’ golf center of Bubenhofen, a village north of Bonn, her name had sparked enough attention to sweep the field to the podium and grab the spotlight—much like her victory at the U.S. Women’s Amateur.

Maguire, who attended Virginia Tech and graduated from Chichester High in West Virginia, had won the U.S. Women’s Amateur and tied for 18th in the Walker Cup before her improbable Solheim debut. She had defeated Katelyn Dambaugh, a rookie and the 10th-ranked female amateur in the world, 4 and 3, in the opening singles match of the Solheim Cup on Aug. 31.

“I don’t really play for (a place in) the future (of the Solheim Cup),” she said last week in Bonn. “I like to play to get a great result.”

For Maguire, a Torrey Pines resident who was born in Kentucky, the Solheim Cup “goes way back to my days on the scene” as a golfer at Charlottesville Country Club, where her first win was the 2003 Virginia Golf Hall of Fame Amateur. She did most of her growing, however, during an amateur career where she moved to Virginia Tech in 2006.

Some 54 holes of pro golf, including a round that ended with Maguire plunking the ball into a swimming pool, failed to stick in her mind. There were other temptations that swamped her while she toiled in Europe for a summer. Maguire showed enough promise in the amateur ranks, however, that Williams led her to her alma mater.

Not bad for a young woman who was hesitant to commit to football as a freshman. After a stint in the Hokies’ live weightroom program, Maguire was a contributor during the 2007 season. She also practiced with her teammates with their strength and conditioning coach, Trent Mead, who is now her coach at Virginia Tech. Mead said he knew Maguire had superior talent, but he didn’t know that she was blessed with a unique combination of raw athleticism and big-game experience. “The sky was the limit for her,” Mead said.

Teammates remember Maguire’s ability to adapt on the fly, recognizing pressure spots as the needed patience to make a delicate adjustment. One of those teammates, aspiring golf pro Robynn Ellins, said that growth took place in a quiet environment among the other Hogs’ 40 women teammates.

“I’m just so proud of her,” Ellins said. “I’m just so happy and I couldn’t think of a more fitting match for her, against Katelyn Dambaugh. She had the magic.”

Playing against so many professionals can be daunting. Most players, even pros, don’t have the support to turn the holes into a wide safety net for their blind shots. “Every one has won one or two Solheim Cups,” Hollis Stacy, one of Maguire’s teammates and a nine-time Solheim Cup veteran, said of Maguire’s competitors.

Instead of fretting about the result, Maguire channeled her competitive energy into the team’s trophy celebration. She posed for photographs with the trophy and then lit a cigarette. Again, an American in Europe is winning at the 18th hole.

“I have played with some of the best golfers, so I have a big advantage,” Maguire said. “The tournament just came to me. It’s just not about how fast you are or what your rank is or your life expectations. Just how well you hit the ball. The golf course kind of shapes your mind and your golf shots just get your head in the right frame of mind.”

So much of the young golfer’s personal identity is wrapped up in her composure, from her rich background in amateur golf to her experience navigating the locker room at Oakmont in 2009 as an only child.

“I guess you’ve kind of grown up with these ropes on your butt and everyone else’s,” Maguire said. “That’s what I’ve grown up with.”

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