Walsh pleased to avoid Faldo repeat as gutsy closing birdie gives her a 71

Ronan MacNamara
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Walsh pleased to avoid Faldo repeat as gutsy closing birdie gives her a 71

Aideen Walsh at Dromoland Castle in Clare. (Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

To have eighteen pars in a round of golf is very rare and the most famous example is Nick Faldo in the 1987 Open Championship final round in Muirfield which he went on to win – claiming his maiden major title. 

Never had Aideen Walsh wanted to not follow in a legend’s footsteps and she was thrilled to see her 17-foot birdie putt on the 9th (her 18th) disappear on the last roll to arrest a run of seventeen successive pars and shoot a one-under 71 in the opening round of the KPMG Women’s Irish Open at Dromoland Castle. 

“I know, that was hilarious,” laughed Walsh who hit driver and a 56 wedge from 77 yards on the last. “I actually thought I was going to have all pars. I’m so happy that I birdied the last! 

“But you’d take that from this course because there’s a lot of holes out there where par is a really good score. So I was happy enough. There was a few chances I missed but that’s just golf isn’t it?” 

Walsh, a member of Dromoland, had a sizeable following from all the clubs she is involved in and drew an echoey roar when she birdied the last in what was a thrilling experience for the Ennis schoolteacher who admitted to being a lot more nervous teeing it up on Thursday morning than standing in front of a classroom for the first time. 

“I’d say it’s probably the most nervous I’ve ever been,” Walsh said. “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.” 

From a golfing point of view the Lahinch native put on a display of patience probably beyond what is expected of an amateur making her maiden appearance in her home open on her home course. 

The 24-year-old hit 15 greens in regulation and while she will be hoping that birdie on 9 is a sign of things to come on the greens on Friday, she was delighted with her performance. 

“18 was one. There was another one, 6, missed a short putt there. Just the putts didn’t go in, even on 7 I left myself with like 20 feet, the downhill par three. Just one of those days when the putts didn’t go in, hopefully they’ll go in tomorrow.” 

“I was quite consistent, hit a good few fairways, a good few greens. I hit every green on the front nine, 15 greens altogether, which is really good out there.” 

Leona Maguire is the main attraction this week but Walsh can certainly rival the Cavan native in terms of media attention and promotional duties and she was relieved to finally get up and running and put all the work she put into the pre-tournament build-up behind her. 

“I was actually. When I was warming up I was like ‘I’m so happy that we’re getting going now’ because I’ve been putting in loads of work the last few weeks with the build-up to it and even this week I’ve been here a good bit so it’s always nice just to get going and get one round done, see how you’re getting on and move onto the next one,” explained Walsh who played alongside Solheim Cup legend Caroline Hedwall and Manon De Roey. 

“To be fair, my coach is the head pro here (Ian Kearney) so he’s been helping me along and he made sure that I didn’t really change anything. It was the same approach as it was for any other tournament, so he was great help. I’ll give him a shout out.” 

“I’m sure the other girls were nervous as well. I probably felt an extra bit of nerves because I’m at home and there were loads of members from the different clubs I’m involved in watching but I really enjoyed it… the back nine!” 

At the time of writing Walsh is just outside the top-20, five shots adrift of joint leaders Annabel Dimmock and Klara Spilkova. 

From an amateur point of view, Roscommon’s Olivia Costello (14) is on seven-over in the clubhouse while Hermitage’s Kate Lanigan is plus three after a 75 and Clandeboye teenager Rebekah Gardner is a shot better on two-over. Maguire is one-under approaching the turn.

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