And then there were two… Foster and Byrne advance to last-32 in Portmarnock

Ronan MacNamara

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

Ronan MacNamara

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Seven became two as Anna Foster and Sara Byrne advanced to the last-32 of the Women’s Amateur Championship on a dramatic day in Portmarnock.

There was heartbreak for Foster’s Elm Park club mate Emma Fleming who lost out to last year’s runner-up and world number 45 Annabelle Pancake on the nineteenth while brave efforts from Annabel Wilson and Kate Lanigan came up short on 17 as Beth Coulter and Aine Donegan also bowed out at the last-64 stage.

Foster was a comfortable 4&3 winner over Englishwoman Nellie Ong. The Irish Women’s champion exemplified patience, hitting just five drivers off the tee as she plotted her way around the penal fairway bunkers.

“It was nice, I played really solid. I didn’t really think about the matchplay I just tried to hot good shots and was trying to treat it like a strokeplay round because par is a great score around here,” said the 23-year-old Dubliner.

“Keeping out of the Friday bunkers is key because it’s a penalty shot so I was trying to place myself as best I could and give myself as many birdie chances as I could but just trying to make pars really.”

Foster has been relatively stress free throughout the week after arriving just seven days after her second Irish championship win in Woodbrook last week and she admits it has given her an inner belief that she can be successful.

“It’s given me that inner belief that I can play well and I am playing well. It’s a different tournament so I’m trying to just stick to the present and not worry about anything else.”

A strong Elm Park contingent roared Foster on last week and they have been peppering the fairways this week and she hopes to keep them out for as long as possible.

“They’ve been out the last few days which has been so nice for myself and Emma to have that extra bit of support.”

Foster will face Iceland’s Andrea Bergsdottir in the last-32 on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Fleming’s conqueror Pancake, will face Douglas star Byrne who was down all day but battled to the very end and beyond against Sweden’s Moa Svendeskiold. Byrne held a clutch eight footer for par on 18 to take the match to extra time before a two-putt par was enough to see her win on the 19th, the only time she had been ahead in the tie.

“It’s been 36 holes with no birdie, it’s getting really frustrating! I’ve made so many pars, I’m playing really solidly, the putts just aren’t dropping but the one I needed to will give me momentum and it will give me a lot of confidence heading into the next couple of days,” said Byrne who will be rising early for a 07:50 tee time.

GB&I Curtis Cup skipper Catriona Matthew arrived in the nick of time to catch the last few holes and Byrne hopes she is impressing the Scot ahead of September’s match against the USA.

“Curtis Cup coming up on the horizon, and I want to keep on performing. And obviously teams are teams; you never know what’s going to happen. But getting a clutch win like that on 19 in front of her helps out a little bit I think.”

World number one amateur Lottie Woad is still the woman to beat after she edged through her last-64 tie against Singapore’s Aloysa Margiela Atienza.

Despite being given an early scare by the player who sunk a 45-foot putt in near darkness in the strokeplay playoff the night before, Woad, the Augusta National Women’s Amateur champion did enough for a 2UP win.

“It was a lot more stressful than I probably would have liked. Made a few mistakes. But hit some good shots towards the end that closed it out nicely,” said the Englishwoman.

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