Mixed fortunes for Maguire on day one at Dromoland

Mark McGowan

Leona Maguire (Photo By Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Leona Maguire is the best placed of the early Irish starters in the KPMG Women’s Irish Open at Dromoland Castle as the Cavan star battled to a one-under-par 71 and trails pacesetting Diksha Dagar by six.

Playing alongside local amateur Aine Donegan and defending champion Klara Spilkova in the morning’s marquee group, Maguire carded seven consecutive pars before bogeying the par-3 17th – her eighth – to make the turn at +1. With three of the four par-5s coming on Dromoland’s back nine, this looked like an opportunity for a fast start gone begging and with several other early starters streaking ahead, a rather subdues atmosphere had come over the sizable gallery following the trio.

Back-to-back bogeys on 13 and 14 saw Donegan fall to two-over, and though she’d birdie the par-5 16th, she matched Maguire’s bogey at 17 and began the inward loop one stroke behind her fellow countrywoman.


Spilkova, meanwhile, was harnessing her fond memories from last year and she made birdies at 15, 16 and 18 to put an excellent first nine holes together, and though she’d only add one more on the front side – that coming at the par-3 seventh – she’d sign for a bogey-free 68 which was good enough to move her to T5 on the leaderboard and provide an excellent springboard from which to drive for consecutive Women’s Irish Open wins.

After three more pars to start her second nine, Maguire sprang into life and reeled off three birdies in succession on four, five and six. The latter coming at a par-5 with the former duo both coming on par-4s. At -2 for the tournament, and with three holes to go, she was nicely poised, but unfortunately, couldn’t capitalise and a bogey at the eighth dropped her back to -1 for the day.

Donegan’s back nine started with a birdie-three but she followed with a bogey-five and closed out the day with seven successive pars to leave her on two-over for the tournament and likely needing a low round on day two if she’s to make the cut.

She’s joined on that number by fellow amateur Sara Byrne, but the Douglas woman can take heart from the fact that she recovered from back-to-back bogeys on her opening two holes to cover the final 16 in level par.

Beth Coulter, having made three bogeys on her front nine and began the back side with a double, produced an incredible rally to birdie five of her closing eight holes with just one more bogey thrown in to give herself a fighting chance of reaching the weekend. At +1, she’s tied for 61st with the afternoon starters all still on the course.

Victoria Craig was the only other Irish woman in the early wave, and five bogeys on her opening nine – the back nine – left her well off the pace. She’d regroup and shoot level-par on the front side, but at +4 for the tournament, she’ll need to shoot something in the sixties tomorrow if she’s to have any chance of making the cut.

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 occupying solo fourth at -5 with the day’s final groups still in the early stages of their rounds.

Olivia Mehaffey, Aideen Walsh, Emma Fleming, Kate Lanigan and Olivia Costello are all currently playing their opening nines and you can watch live coverage on the LET website by clicking here.


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