Kirkistown Castle’s Beth Coulter carded a one-over par opening 75 to be well inside the top-32 who will advance to the match play stages of this year’s Girls’ Amateur Championship at Fulford after 36-holes of stroke play.
Coulter, who successfully defended her Irish Girls Close title last month, traded three birdies with four bogeys to lead the Irish challenge on day one with Clandeboye’s Molly O’Hara (+7), Ballykisteen’s Lauren Kelly & Killarney’s Corrina Griffin (+8) and Royal Portrush’s Tara Laverty completing the Irish scoring.
17-year-old Rachel Gourley carded an eagle, seven birdies and just one dropped shot at the Yorkshire venue to sign for an eight-under-par round of 66 – beating the previous best course record for women by four strokes. Gourley, a winner with England at the R&A Girls’ Home Internationals last week, highlighted her day with an eagle three at the par-5 11th, striking a 3-wood approach to 18 feet.
“It’s the best round I’ve ever had, by quite a bit as well,” said Gourley, attached to Arcot Hall Golf Club in Northumberland. “My best round before was five-under, so I’ve beaten it by quite a bit. I had some wayward drives over the last few holes, but I managed to drop the par putts and birdie the last.
“I love this course, I’ve played it so many times and to now be the female course record holder is incredible, it’s an honour. I’ve played it in the Girls’ Under-16s and we have done a few national training sessions here.”
Meanwhile in the Boys’ Championship being played at Royal Cinque Ports, Roganstown’s Sean Keeling recovered from a quadruple-bogey ‘8’ with four birdies in a three-over 75 to sit in a tie for 43rd ahead of round two.
Blainroe’s David Lally was the only other Irishman inside the top-64 at the time of writing at plus-five with Gaoth Dobhair’s Padraig O’Dochartaigh also at plus-five after an opening 77 alongside Athlone’s Charlie Kelly.
This year marks the centenary of the Boys’ Amateur after the first playing at Royal Ascot in 1921 when Donald Mathieson triumphed. Sir Michael Bonallack (1952), Ronan Rafferty (1979), José María Olazábal (1983), David Howell (1993), Sergio Garcia (1997) and Tom Lewis (2009) are all notable past winners.