The Irish Boys’ and Girls’ Close Championships began on Tuesday morning at a rain soaked Kilkeel Golf Club, Co. Down. For the first time ever, both competitions take place simultaneously, with 36-holes of stroke play qualifying followed by knock-out matchplay on Thursday and Friday.
Following the first round of play, recent Connacht Women’s Champion Katie Poots (Knock) leads the Girls’ field by one shot.
Poots, playing alongside defending Champion Beth Coulter (Kirkistown) and fellow girls’ international Caitlin Shippam (Ballykisteen), finished the front 9 in 2-over par before a closing birdie on the 18th saw her sign for a 1-over 75.
Roscommon’s Olivia Costello carded a round of 76, with Coulter, Molly O’Hara (Clandeboye) and Anna Abom (Edmondstown) all one shot further back again.
Meanwhile, in the Boys’ standings, Tom Cafferky carries the lead into tomorrow’s second round, also by just one shot.
The Ballinasloe member and Connacht Boys’ Interprovincial handled the blustery conditions well, posting just 3 bogeys and 1 birdie for a 2-over round of 74.
Cafferky, who finished 14th in last year’s Irish Boys’ Amateur Open, is closely watched by Greg Healy (Bray), Cathal Penny (Athenry) and clubmate Charlie Mooney who are all on 3-over par.
The top 16 players from both codes will progress to the matchplay after Wednesday’s second round.