Anna Foster best of the Irish as Woad leads Women’s Amateur

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Anna Foster (Photo by Oisin Keniry/R&A/R&A via Getty Images)

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Lottie Woad made an impressive start in her bid to claim The 121st Women’s Amateur Championship title as she shared the first round lead at a windswept Portmarnock today.

The world number one and Augusta National Women’s Amateur Champion produced a three-under-par round of 69 at the famous links north of Dublin to match the mark set earlier in the day by the USA’s Farah O’Keefe.Woad, who finished tied 23rd at the Chevron Championship in April in and then competed in the US Women’s Open last month, demonstrated her experience of links golf and her ability to control the ball in strong, gusting winds by producing four birdies and dropping just a single shot on the 17th.

“The back nine was pretty tough with the wind so I was just trying to hit the greens and make pars,” said the 20-year-old.

“This is my first time playing here. It’s really good. It played a lot different to the practice round with the wind. It was pretty still yesterday and a lot easier. Today I had a lot longer clubs into the holes.

“I wanted it windy. I feel like we are a lot more used to this and are playing in it all the time so I’m happy the wind came.“I’m just trying to keep playing solid and then restart for match play.”

O’Keefe capitalised fully on calmer morning conditions to set the early clubhouse lead. The 19-year-old from Austen Texas made her move with a birdie threes on the 9th and the 11th and then birdied two of the last three holes with the only blemish on her card coming with a bogey on the 17th.

O’Keefe, who is ranked 35th in the World Amateur Golf Ranking® (WAGR®) and will play as part of the United States’ team in next month’s Arnold Palmer Cup at Lahinch, praised the guidance she received from her caddie.

“It’s really links golf and you need to know where to hit the ball and where to miss the ball especially,” she said.

“This morning when we were teeing off number one it was still and there was no wind. I totally got the right side of the draw in that respect. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to shoot the same score tomorrow just because of the wind. It’s significant, there is a big difference. With the wind picking up some of the par fours are playing like par fives and some of the par fives are playing like par fours.

“It’s missing it on all the right spots, making sure I don’t make too many big numbers, keeping the bogeys off the card and letting the birdies chances fall in and not forcing anything to happen. Tomorrow is another opportunity to go learn some more about the golf course and maybe dial it in a little bit. That’s my goal for tomorrow, just keep it simple, miss it in the right spaces and don’t get too far ahead of myself.”

Elm Park star Anna Foster is best of the Irish on one-over after an excellent round of 73. Out early, the Irish Women’s champion carded just two bogeys and one birdie in the blustery morning conditions but there is no doubt that she signed her card just before the wing reached its peak.

One shot further back is Douglas sensation Sara Byrne who recovered from an opening double bogey to card a 74 which saw her rise from 35th to a share of 14th as the day wore on and scoring became tougher.

It’s been a good start of the Irish women with eight of the thirteen who teed it up projected inside the top-64 heading into the second day of strokeplay qualifying.

Some big hitters in the shape of Kate Lanigan (Hermitage), Aine Donegan (Lahinch) and Beth Coulter are well placed on plus four with Castlerock’s Annabel Wilson a shot further back on plus five.

Anna Abom (Edmondstown) and Emma Fleming (Elm Park) are in a share of 58th place on six-over.

This is one of the strongest fields in the history of The Women’s Amateur with four players in the top ten of the WAGR and 21 in the top 50.Two shots back from the leaders was another top 25 player in Meja Ortengren, from Sweden, who carded a one-under-par round of 71.

The semi-finalist in last year’s R&A Girls’ Amateur Championship at Ganton is on the same mark as 18-year-old Savannah De Bock from Belgium.English hopes Euphemie Rhodes and Isla McDonald-O’Brien are on level par alongside Anne-Sterre den Dunnen from the Netherlands and Caitlyn Macnab from South Africa.The 144-strong field will take part in the second round of stroke play stage on Tuesday 25 June with 64 players advancing to the match play stage from Wednesday 26 to Saturday 29 June.

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