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golden girl Stunning Solheim debut marks Cavan's Leona Maguire's card as a star in the making

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Leona Maguire of Team Europe celebrates with the Solheim Cup at the Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio, USA. Photo by Brian Spurlock/Sportsfile

Leona Maguire of Team Europe celebrates with the Solheim Cup at the Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio, USA. Photo by Brian Spurlock/Sportsfile

Leona Maguire of Team Europe celebrates with the Solheim Cup at the Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio, USA. Photo by Brian Spurlock/Sportsfile

Leona Maguire went from rookie to Europe’s most feared played with a record-breaking performance in the Solheim Cup.

The Co Cavan star set herself apart as the new superstar of women’s golf when she became the most successful rookie in Solheim Cup history and the one the Americans dread having to beat as Europe claimed only its second away win with a 15-13 triumph at the Inverness Club in Ohio.

The Co Cavan star (26) is already a top 50 player but not only did she get a massive confidence boost in Toledo as she took on the best the Americans had to throw at her, she intimidated them.

“She's good,” said defeated US captain Pat Hurst. “She's going to be around for a long time. She's the one we're going to have to fear, like I said, for a long time. She played at Duke and she was good there, and I think this is only going to elevate her game even that much more.”

In Sunday’s singles, Maguire crushed a fellow rookie, the previously unbeaten Jennifer Kupcho, 5&4 to take her personal haul for the week to four-and-a-half points out of five.

She was also only the third player in Solheim Cup history to earn her team more than four points in a single competition.

Captain Catriona Matthew got the order right as Europe won four and halved two of the first seven matches with rookie Matilda Castren grabbing the point that ensured they retained the trophy before Denmark’s Emily Pedersen made a 12 footer on the 18th to beat Danielle Kang in the anchor match to ensure a European victory.

“It’s been an incredible week,” Leona said. “It’s a dream come true to be here to go and win a Solheim Cup on American soil, you can’t even imagine. We had a phenomenal team this week from top to bottom and this is an experience I will probably never forget."

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Leona Maguire of Team Europe, drinks from the Solheim Cup after defeating Team USA in the Solheim Cup golf tournament at Inverness Club. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Leona Maguire of Team Europe, drinks from the Solheim Cup after defeating Team USA in the Solheim Cup golf tournament at Inverness Club. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Leona Maguire of Team Europe, drinks from the Solheim Cup after defeating Team USA in the Solheim Cup golf tournament at Inverness Club. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Even after winning two and a half points from her three matches before last night singles, world No 28 Kupcho had no answer to Europe's steely Irish star.

Maguire eagled the second, then birdied the fourth, sixth and seventh to go four up before closing out the match with a winning par four at the 14th.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I think the week was going to go this way,” Maguire added. “It’s been an honour to represent Europe and the trust that Beany and all the captain had in me was incredible.

"It’s given me a massive confidence boost and I wouldn’t have been able to do it without them.”

Leona’s twin sister Lisa reiterated her claim that the younger of the two had showed the world what everyone in Ireland already knew.

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“It’s been incredible this week,” Lisa said. “I knew Leona was incredible. Everyone at home knew Leona was incredible and now the whole world got to see how incredible she really is.

“We all couldn’t be more proud. It’s been a fantastic week and fantastic win for Team Europe.”

The usually reserved Leona was more demonstrative than ever, fist-pumping wildly all week as she made clutch putt after clutch putt.

“Leona probably channeled her inner Suzann (Pettersen) after years watching Suzann play Solheim Cups and winning Solheim Cups, especially at Killeen (Castle) in 2011,” Lisa added. “It was incredible to watch.”

European captain Matthew will step away now for the matches at Finca Cortesín in Andalucía, but she could not have been prouder of her team.

“It's not really sunk in yet,” she said. “We got off to such a good start winning three points in the first few games, and then it looked pretty close. Matilda obviously holing that fantastic putt on 18 to get her full point, and then Emily closing out on 18 was just a dream come true stuff really.”

Leona paid tribute to her skipper afterwards describing her as “calm, cool and collected”.

“The biggest thing was she instilled so much confidence in the whole team and trusted us 100 percent and just let us do our thing,” Leona said. “She knew exactly what she was doing with the pairings and exactly what she was doing with the singles order and two wins out of two for her. It doesn’t get much better than that.”

Pairing the quiet Maguire with the extrovert Mel Reid looked like a master stroke.

“I do want to give a little big up to my girl Leona because I didn't see that pairing coming,” Reid said. “I trusted Catriona's pairing there and she was like, I really want you to play with Leona, and I could not be more proud of her by the way she handled herself, the way she plays.

“Hopefully the whole world now sees how good she is.”

Europe’s fourth win in six matches is a big boost to grassroots golf, which will only going to go from strength to strength in Ireland where the return of the Ladies Irish Open is eagerly anticipated.

“The support has been incredible,” Leona said of the messages from home. “Hopefully we will see a lot of them in Spain in two years’ time. It’s been fantastic. You’ll never beat the Irish!”

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