Sara Byrne produced the round of the day in difficult conditions to finish the stroke play qualifying of the AIG Irish Women’s Amateur Close Championship in a tie for the lead with defending champion Beth Coulter after Day Two at Connemara Golf Links.
Douglas’ Byrne shot a five-under 67 to end the day on -8 alongside playing partner Coulter, who shot a second successive 68.
“Today was pretty good, five-under today, so it was pretty nice, just when the rain started coming down it wasn’t too good but it was fine” said Byrne after completing her round.
A bogey on 18 was the only blemish for the University of Miami golfer as conditions began to worsen at the conclusion of her round.
“It was actually playing pretty nice for the front nine, it was a bit windier today than yesterday so there’s that. But honestly the course was playing grand until the wind and the rain started coming in.”
Looking ahead to tomorrow’s match play, the 2018 Close Champion is looking for more of the same, saying “I’ve been playing pretty well. So just kind of keeping it in the fairway, hitting greens, and hopefully rolling in a few putts. So just keep playing solid”
Meanwhile Coulter, who is trying to win this competition for the second year running after her success in Grange in 2022, was complimentary of the test that Connemara is posing the players this week.
“We played the practice round in completely different wind so it was kind of tough the last two days to kind of figure it out again, but yeah the course is fab and the greens are really nice.”
With the format changing for the weekend’s play, the Kirkistown Castle golfer is anticipating a different approach and will be preparing in advance.
“The mindset kind of switches a little bit now with the match play. Some of the holes you can kind of hit driver where I was hitting irons off the tee, so I’ll definitely have a look at that tonight and see who I’m playing tomorrow.”
Lahinch’s Aine Donegan finished one stroke behind the leading pair, with Hermitage’s Kate Lanigan (-6) and Oughterard’s Kate Dillon (-4) the only other players under par after two days of stroke play scoring.
Attention now switches to match play for 32 players, as the top 16 qualify for Championship match play whilst the next 16 will compete for the Plate. Both titles will be played out over four knockout rounds across Saturday and Sunday.
The pick of the championship ties sees 15-year-old Roscommon starlet Olivia Costello battle last year’s semi-finalist Anna Abom (16) of Edmondstown. Clandeboye sensation Rebekah Gardner will bid to take down US Women’s Open bound Donegan.