April 6 was a good day to be a Maguire brother.
While Jack Maguire, a freshman at Florida State, was signing his scorecard to put the finishing touches on a seven-shot victory at the Mason Rudolph Championship in Franklin, Tenn., he asked how his brother M.J., a junior at North Florida, finished at his tournament, the Irish Creek Collegiate some seven hours away in Kannapolis, N.C.
“I asked my coach how he was doing with about three or four holes to play, then he showed me his phone in the scorer’s tent and I found out that M.J. had won,” said Jack Maguire, 19, who finished at 10-under 203 for his second collegiate victory. “It was pretty awesome.”
After waiting out North Florida’s narrow loss to Georgia State and securing a four-shot victory of his own, M.J. Maguire then did what he does after most of his tournaments – he texted his little brother.
“I didn’t know he had won until I texted him,” said M.J. Maguire, 21, whose 8-under 205 total gave him his second collegiate title and first of the season. “I knew he was playing well and heard that he had a big lead, and with his confidence being as high as it is right now, I had a good feeling.”
It is believed that this is the first time brothers have won Division I tournaments on the same day. The two are also ranked inside the top 40 of the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings, Jack at 14th and M.J. at 39th.
“This time of year brings out the best in my game, and I’m sure it does the same for Jack,” M.J. Maguire said. “We thrive off the pressure and extra competition.”
The Maguires had different interests growing up. Jack was into wakeboarding and skateboarding, and also played soccer. M.J.’s first love was baseball. They hung out with different groups of friends, too. But when M.J. was 9 and Jack 7, the two found a common bond: golf.
Their dad, Mike, first taught them the game back home in St. Petersburg, Fla. It took them a few years to really focus on the game, though.
“We played for fun for three to four years,” M.J. Maguire said. “We’d see who could hit it further on the range.”
It wasn’t until he shot 12 under to win a U.S. Kids Golf event at Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, Fla., at age 12 that M.J. Maguire realized he had a future in golf. Shortly after, Jack decided to turn his focus to the sport, as well.
They started taking lessons with Rick Waltman, a pro at Mangrove Bay Country Club in St. Petersburg. Now, they are coached by Matt Mitchell of the Downs Golf Practice Facility in Tampa, Fla.
Their games are similar, as well.
“We both strike the ball well,” Jack Maguire said, “and our rounds are normally decided on the greens.”
Jack Maguire’s recent performances with the putter have made him a staple atop leaderboards – he closed with a 10-under 62 to win the USF Invitational earlier this spring. M.J. Maguire has had his struggles on the green, but a recent putter change helped him turn things around.
“I switched back to an old Scotty Cameron putter I used last year,” M.J. Maguire said. “It was given to me by one of my dad’s friends who passed away. It’s a shorter, lighter, old-school putter and I feel a lot better now on putts inside of 10 feet.”
As for who’s the better player of the two, Jack Maguire was hesitant to pick.
“We’re pretty close; it’s a day-by-day thing as to who’s better,” Jack Maguire said.
M.J. agreed, but added that his brother is further along than he was as a freshman.
“I struggled with school and golf my freshman year,” M.J. Maguire said. “I didn’t have the best finishes in my first few events. I didn’t have the confidence that Jack has right now.
“His game has gotten really good and it’s not surprising that he’s playing as well as he is.”
Florida State will play the Capital City Club Match Play on April 15 before competing in the ACC Championship in Uwharrie Point, N.C., April 25-27. North Florida is off until the Atlantic Sun Championship April 20-22 in Braselton, Ga.
There’s a chance they could meet in a NCAA Regional, which would be the third college event they’ve played together. They are 1-1 against each other in their college careers – M.J. finished ahead of Jack at the Isleworth Collegiate while Jack was the higher finisher at the Gator Invitational. But they’ll also be the first to admit they aren’t too competitive with each other.
“It’s fun to be able to check in on him and see how he’s doing, and have another team to root for when I’m not playing him,” Jack Maguire said.
Said M.J. Maguire: “You don’t want your little brother beating you on a regular basis, but at the same time, we’re very supportive of each other. We want each other to do well. . . . I’m always going to pull for my little brother.”