Beth Coulter was a late entry into the field for the Flogas Irish Women’s and Girls’ Amateur Open Championship but the wait for her commitment to the event was worth it in spades.
A roaring finish of four birdies in her closing five holes catapulted her into a share of the lead alongside her playing partner and defending champion Lorna McClymont at the conclusion of day one in Woodbrook.
The pair both finished the day with course record 68s to lead by one from Welshwoman Luca Thompson by one on six-under-par.
Playing in the featured group with McClymont and Roisin Scanlon, Coulter was chasing the tail of the Scotswoman for much of the round but found her groove on the back nine and took advantage of the three par fives in the last five holes with three successive birdies on 14, 15 and 16 before a birdie on the last gave her a place in the history books.
It was a fast finish for the Kirkistown Castle woman to match the electric start of McClymont who picked up where she left off twelve months ago.
The Stirling woman started with a birdie before reeling off five birdies in a row to reach -6 after 7 holes. Dropped shots came at 8 and 13 while birdies on 12, 16 and 17 saw her take a two shot lead to the 18th before a closing bogey dropped her into a share with Coulter.
Coulter was battling a hand injury but she soon felt her way into the round and her length paid dividends towards the end.
“It was a slow start, nothing wow until I got a bit going on the back nine. Lorna had a great front nine and I was just trying to hang in there then I got momentum on the back nine. She was still far ahead and I ticked off the birdies to get as close as I can. I didn’t know about the course record until I came in so it’s always nice.
“My length is a huge advantage on the par fives I can reach them in two so it’s about getting on them in two and make the putt for eagle or get the birdie to ease the pressure. Lorna was definitely driving me on I knew on the back nine she was quite far ahead so just needed to get as many birdies as I could.
“Those last four or five holes definitely kicked me on for tomorrow.”
Thompson had set the early pace with a five-under 69 as Irish hopefuls Kate Lanigan (-3), Roscommon’s Olivia Costello (-2) and Hannah Lee McNamara of Portrush (-2) formed the chasing pack.
“I think it was pretty solid I got off to a steady start with a lot of pars. My only bogey was on seventeen, I was raging after that! But delighted to finish with a birdie on 18 so it was a stress free day which is always nice. Not many putts dropped so room for improvement over the next two days,” said Lanigan of the Hermitage.
“I played well I was very solid. I had a good few opportunities, gave myself a load of birdie putts not all of them dropped but there was a few that dropped but overall I am happy with how I played,” added 15-year-old Costello.
Clodagh Coughlan and Marina Joyce-Moreno round off the players who shot under-par with 73s.
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