Coulter heads Irish challenge after day one of Women’s Amateur

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Coulter heads Irish challenge after day one of Women’s Amateur

Beth Coulter Picture by Pat Cashman

Kirkistown Castle’s Beth Coulter had mixed feelings about her opening even par effort but the teenager admits she feels like she belongs in the field at The 118th Women’s Amateur Championship after the first round of qualifying.

17-year old Coulter fired three birdies and an eagle in her even par start to sit just five shots off Hanna Darling’s lead and inside the top-10 as she looks to navigate her way through amongst the top-64 qualifiers after 36-holes of stroke play at Kilmarnock (Barassie).

“I finished level, wasn’t great,” Coulter sighed. “First six holes were steady enough, it’s hard getting out there, first few holes are quite tough. Middle third, I started off the back-nine really, really well, birdie – eagle – birdie – and then 13, 14, 15 were a bit ropey, missed a couple of short putts but finished well with two pars.”

The fact that Coulter’s somewhat disappointed with her start shows just how far the young Co. Down woman has come as she looks to fast-track her development in the women’s game.

“It’s definitely a big step up,” said Coulter who began her second round on Tuesday morning. “I remember under-16 at Frilford, it’s kind of your only age group, then British Girls is obviously a step up and Women’s Amateur is above that so I’m just hoping to keep progressing. Everyone’s here to compete and win but I’m just plugging away.”

Coulter may head the Irish charge but there’s plenty of hopefuls knowing that if they can secure their place in the top-64, that anything can happen in the match-play rounds. Experienced Curtis Cup player Paula Grant will be one such star looking to ease her way into the tournament and is placed OK, inside the top-40 after an opening 76 left her at three-over, the same score as Hermitage’s Kate Lanigan.

Clandeboye’s Rebekah Gardener and Douglas’ Sara Byrne were a shot further back after 77s while Lahinch’s Aine Donegan (81) and veteran Laura Webb (84) will be hoping for better on. Tuesday.

Meanwhile Scotland’s Hannah Darling leads the field after the first round of qualifying. Darling recorded an opening round of five-under-par 68 at Kilmarnock to lead by three shots from 2019 Women’s Amateur Champion Emily Toy of England.

England’s Lottie Woad, Amy Taylor and Ellie Gower as well as Hulda Clara Gestsdóttir of Iceland recorded rounds of one-under-par 72 to be tied third with a group of five players recording even-par rounds.

The top-64 players after two rounds of qualifying will advance to the match play stage of the Championship.

Eagle the highlight for Darling

Getting off to a fast start the 17-year-old recorded birdies at the par-5 1st hole and par-4 2nd hole, a dropped shot at the par-4 6th was quickly mitigated with a birdie at the par-4 9th hole to make the turn on two-under 35.

The highlight of Darling’s round came on the par-5 11th hole, where a well-placed drive down the left side of the fairway and a pitching wedge into the green gave her a 15-foot eagle opportunity which she duly rolled in.

The teenager from Broomieknowe dropped a shot at the 14th but closed out her round with birdies at the par-5 16thhole and par-4 18th hole.

Darling commented after her round, “I was just really steady out there today, hit the shots when I needed. It’s a good start.

“The course is playing quite long this week, and I am one of the longer hitters this week so it almost suits me. If you are hitting it in the right places there are a few pins that are easy to get to.”

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