Mehaffey comes out firing to lead the Irish charge at Dromoland

Mark McGowan

Olivia Mehaffey (Photo By Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Olivia Mehaffey, playing in the third-to-last group of the day, pushed her way to the forefront of the Irish contingent with a three-under 69 that leaves her tied for 13th, just four strokes back.

Playing alongside England’s Lauren Taylor and Norwegian Renate Grimstad, the Tandragee pro reached her fourth hole of the day – the 13th – before she made a par, starting birdie, bogey, birdie, and picked up two more strokes on the 14th and 16th as she raced to the turn at -3.

On the front side, she’d trade birdies at two and five with bogeys at four and eight for a level-par 35 that saw her reach the clubhouse at three-under and a two-stroke lead in the Irish players’ game within the game.


Having twice gotten to -4, she’ll be a little disappointed that she dropped strokes on the way in, but, having played the par-5s in level par, three-under was an excellent return and she’ll have the opportunity to close the gap in the second round with the leading trio all scheduled for afternoon tee times.

Earlier in the day, playing alongside Aine Donegan and defending champion Klara Spilkova, Leona Maguire had battled her way to a one-under 71, and Hermitage’s Kate Lanigan is next best at level-par.

The Trinity student started with two bogeys in her opening three holes and though she’d birdie the sixth, gave the shot back at eight for a two-over 37 on the front side. A birdie at 11 was sandwiched by bogeys at 10 and 12 and she faced into her final six holes lying three-over.

But she reeled off three birdies in succession from the 14th and fought her way back to level-par and a tie for 47th which would currently see her inside the cut mark if she can stand her ground.

Elm Park amateur Emma Fleming carded a one-over 73 and joins Douglas’ Beth Coulter in a tie for 64th, one shot ahead of Sara Byrne and Aine Donegan.

15-year-old Roscommon starlet Olivia Costello got her round underway in dream fashion with a birdie at the first, and though she’d drop a couple of shots, entered the final two holes at +1. Unfortunately, she’d finish double-bogey, bogey to sign for a four-over 76 to join Victoria Craig.

Local girl Aideen Walsh, who featured in the afternoon marquee grouping, struggled on the back nine in particular, carding five bogeys including all three par-5s and this, combined with a double-bogey on eight, saw her post a six-over 78.

India’s Diksha Dagar made the most of the fine early scoring conditions, firing seven birdies and going bogey-free to post a 65. The 22-year-old southpaw has already got a 2023 LET Tour win to her name after winning the Tippsport Czech Masters and sits in fifth place on the Race to Costa del Sol season-long LET rankings.

Dagar leads Frenchwoman Emma Grechi and American Gurleen Kaur by one, with South Africa’s Casandra Alexander and Australian Kirsten Rudgeley one shot further adrift on -5. Rudgeley is the sole afternoon starter among the leading quintet, demonstrating that the best scoring conditions were to be found in the morning.

“I was thinking this golf course is tough,” said Dagar, who would move top of the Race to Costa del Sol with a win this week, “so I just took it one shot at a time because every shot counts. It was a good day and very surprising. I have been having the same mentality and every year my game improves and so does my thinking process. The more you play, the better you get.”


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