With the disappointing late withdrawal of the Slieve Russell twins Leona and Lisa Maguire, the focus of attention turned to the other Irish competitors in the smaller-than-usual field in the British Ladies Open stroke-play championship at Shandon Park, Belfast yesterday.
Continentals are conspicuous by their absence but Curtis Cup players Amy Boulden, Kelly Tidy and Bronte Law are in the line-up, providing plenty of quality.
It was a little-known player from England’s West Country, Sarah-Jane Boyd of Truro, who leads the way after round one with a three-under par 69, one stroke clear of Boulden from Conwy, North Wales.
Boyd finished spectacularly with birdies on six of the last seven holes for an inward half score of 30.
Lisburn’s 20-year-old Laura Grant is leading the Irish challenge after a level par return of 72 which included a back nine score of 33.
She holed her third shot to the 387-yard 16th for an eagle three before landing in the water at the 17th on her way to a double bogey six and then ending with a birdie three — to lie just three strokes off the pace.
Her sister Paula is also in the top 20, having posted 76.
Mary Dowling of New Ross was unable to card a birdie in her 76 — 14 pars and four bogeys — while Maria Dunne of Skerries came home in 35, despite recording three bogeys in the last four holes, for 76. Both Gillian O’Leary from Cork and Lahinch’s Sinead Sexton returned 77.
Competitors play another round today after which there will be a cut and the top 40 and ties go forward to the final 36 holes tomorrow.
Meanwhile the team selected by the GUI to compete in the Eisenhower Trophy at Antalya and Cornelia Golf Clubs, Turkey from October 4-7 is: Alan Dunbar (Rathmore), Gavin Moynihan (The Island) and Kevin Phelan (Waterford Castle)
Boys U15 Interpros, City of Derry GC: Today: Leinster v Connacht (Leinster names first) Foursomes: K LeBlanc & R Mohan v S Doyle & D Hill.
Singles: M Boucher v D Morley; M Cooke v D Brady; R McKeever v TJ Ford; C Purcell v D Judge.
Ulster v Munster (Ulster names first) Foursomes: K Eccles & R Corry v C Butler & G Ward.
Singles: R Williamson v J Molyneaux; M Rea v J Kerrisk; M Norton v J Hearn; P Cummins v B Norris.
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