Marina Joyce Moreno stole the show for the Golf Ireland amateurs on day one of the KPMG Women’s Irish Open as she carded a stunning hole in one on the par-3 13th on her way to a respectable two-over 74.
Dromoland member Aideen Walsh might be the one amateur who sticks around for the weekend after an opening 71 but it could be Joyce Moreno who has the moment of the week.
The 16-year-old whose home club is Club de Golf Llavaneras in Barcelona drilled a six-iron from 174 yards and it disappeared for a sensational ace. Not a bad time or place to make your first competitive hole in one – her only other ace coming in practice with her sister.
“I saw it flying right on line and landed three metres before the flag and disappeared.
“Anthony my caddie went mad and I thought – a hole in one! It was a six iron from 140 metres and it was my first hole in a one in a big tournament. I have had one at home at Llavaneras playing with my sister.”
Joyce Moreno’s hole in one set the tone for a colourful card. After two opening pars she wouldn’t card another par until her 12th hole.
The Portrush member bogeyed her third hole before the hole in one on the 13th. She bogeyed 14 before carding three birdies in four holes and a bogey on 17 to turn in two-under 35.
Things got away from the Barca teen slightly as she opened her journey home with a bogey and double-bogey before she dropped two further shots on the sixth and seventh. Dinner will taste better tonight for her after a tap in birdie on the 9th as darkness began to descend.
“I was very nervous at the start but I just tried to play my golf and it went well. I had a nice finish and hit a wedge to one metre at my final hole, the ninth.”
Also on two-over is Rebekah Gardner of Clandeboye who did really well to remain in the hunt to make the halfway cut despite dropping two shots in her first five holes.
Nerves played their part for all the amateurs today and Gardner settled herself with birdies on six and fifteen which balanced out dropped shots on 12 and 14.
Hermitage’s Kate Lanigan is a shot further back after a sour finish undid all her good work and she was forced to settle for a three-over 75.
The Irish international was level-par with six to play but three bogeys coming home spoiled what was a promising round. Lanigan carded a six on the reachable par-5 6th and was forced to chip out on the short 9th after finding a lonesome tree in the left rough.
The Dubliner dropped a shot on the eleventh – her second hole, but responded with a run of pars before landing a birdie on the par-3 3rd while passing up several good looks in between and she hopes to see her good golf rewarded on the greens over the weekend.
“I was quite nervous at the beginning but after the first few holes I got into it more and more and that reflected in my golf game. I hit a lot of greens in regulation so it wasn’t very stressful and then it was a tale of two nines.
“Made a nice birdie on the third on our second nine and then a bit of a scrappy finish but overall a great experience. Disappointed with the finish but give it another go tomorrow.
“I didn’t hole many putts but just a bad finish with loads of positives to take into the second round.”
Irish Girls champion Katie Poots played a superb fifteen holes of golf, it’s just a shame the other three holes were all double bogeys as she carded a five-over 77 that didn’t reflect how she played.
The Knock teenager also started on the back nine and it looked like a dream experience might turn into a nightmare after successive doubles on 12 and 13, but she stuck to her guns.
A birdie on the par-3 17th saw her turn in just three over and a bogey on 1 was followed by another two on the third before a five on the par-3 7th made it a hat trick of chastening doubles.
Still, the Northern Irishwoman was still laughing and joking on the course with her caddy and she was in good spirits as she always seems to be, post round.
“The rest of my golf was grand. Apart from the three doubles I played pretty solid, I think I was one under for the rest.
“It was a class experience, bit nervous at the start but once I got settled in it was grand, a class experience and the girls I played with were really nice which made the day better. I wasn’t trying to take it too seriously but also take it serious. I wanted to have fun and enjoy it while I’m here so yeah it was great being out there, good fun.
“Just try and avoid the doubles tomorrow,” she laughed. “See how low I can go tomorrow.”
Eleven years ago Leona Maguire teed it up as an eager and enthusiastic fifteen-year-old in Killeen Castle and a similar story repeated itself in the form of Roscommon’s Olivia Costello who is a year younger at just fourteen years of age.
Costello is another product of Shane O’Grady’s prestigious stable and she was encouraged by how she played in her seven-over 79 in what was a fantastic experience for one so young and who knows perhaps she could still be around in a decade’s time.
“I was good felt a small bit nervous but that was always going to be the case it’s my first time playing in a tour event so I was nervous,” explained the teenager.
“I enjoyed it. It was obviously very challenging the holes are a lot longer than I am used to playing but it was still very enjoyable.
“Probably to play in it in the first place was the highlight, just to tee it up next to tour players at home to see what they are capable of doing gives me great encouragement and I am looking forward to tomorrow and hopefully play a bit better.”
Aideen Walsh is just six shots off the early lead after carding seventeen successive pars and a closing birdie as she set the tone for what was a great day for the amateur contingent this week.
The 24-year-old has teed it up in a professional event before – the ISPS Handa in Galgorm – and despite being a schoolteacher she admitted she was overcome with the nerves on the first tee on Thursday morning.
“I’d say it’s probably the most nervous I’ve ever been. Yeah, I’d say it is, just with the build-up. I probably would have taken 71. You know, it’s nerves when you’re the home one playing in an Irish Open, so I was quite nervous for the back nine, my front nine.
“Schoolchildren are a different story. They’re fine. Yeah, it is probably the most nervous I’ve ever been!
“Yeah, it’s just great to be here. It’s unbelievable, such a great week. The build-up and everything seems to be going quite smoothly, which is nice and hopefully we’ll have a good weekend.”