Walsh shares lead in Kenya with Mehaffey a shot behind

Ronan MacNamara
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Lauren Walsh (Photo: Tristan Jones / LET)

Ronan MacNamara

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Lauren Walsh began her rookie season on the Ladies European Tour in style as she marched into a share of the lead at the Magical Kenya Ladies Open at Vipingo Ridge.

Walsh is in a three-way tie at the summit on four-under alongside Eleanor Givens and Cara Gorlei after a bogey-free round of 69 while Olivia Mehaffey is a shot off the pace.

Both Walsh and Mehaffey achieved category 16 status at LET Q-School over the winter which will give them up to fifteen starts before they get the chance to improve their status in the mid season re-rank.

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Walsh began on the back nine and didn’t take long to hit her stride, rolling in a birdie at the par five 11th before adding a second birdie of the day on 18.

The 23-year-old birdied the fourth and seventh on her way home, on a day where she gave herself plenty of chances, hitting 16/18 greens in regulation.

“I played really nice, I was bogey-free and four-under. Everything was really solid today,” said the Castewarden woman.

“I drove it really nicely. I hit some good irons as well and my putting was solid as well, I have a new putter in the bag this week to start off the season, so far so good. I really enjoyed it out there.”

Walsh credited her accuracy off the tee as the foundation to attack the pins, missing just three fairways all day.

“I think you have to be quite accurate off the tee around here, which probably suits me, and I kept myself in position all day. I only missed one green and it was very solid. The one green I did miss, I made a really good up-and-down and I said to my caddie that’s probably the best up-and-down of the week.”

It was a great day for the Irish overall as Mehaffey also moved into contention early on with a three-under 70.

The Tandragee woman carded four birdies and just one bogey and she was delighted to see her busy off season practice come to fruition.

“It was good,” said the Northern Irishwoman. “The off-season didn’t feel too long because I was at Q-School and then I’ve been in Arizona and put a lot of work in.

“I didn’t feel I had had a break because I’ve been playing a lot. It’s nice to shoot under-par round to start the year, I had some chances coming in and I didn’t make them but it’s a good round, it’s windy and this is a tough course. The scores are never too low and it’s a good test to start the year.”

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