Douglas golfer Sara Byrne off to a great start in Ballybunion

Kanturk’s Mairead Martin, a former member of Ballybunion GC, also impressed
Douglas golfer Sara Byrne off to a great start in Ballybunion

Sara Byrne (Douglas) on the fourth tee during the AIG Irish Women's Amateur Close Championship, Ballybunion Golf Club. Picture: Golffile/Thos Caffrey

SARA Byrne was the biggest winner after Round 1 of the AIG Irish Women’s Amateur Close Championship on Friday, after a 7&6 win against Lauren Murray.

The Douglas golfer was one of Thursday’s leading qualifiers and was delighted to win on the 12th hole.

“I was a little bumpy in the first three holes, but after that I got into the swing of things with a couple of birdies and an eagle. I played pretty solid, and conditions were far calmer too.

“The legs are a bit sore after yesterday, and tomorrow will be long. This week will be mentally and physically draining, so I’m delighted to get back in early, and get ready for tomorrow.”

It was a day for the leading qualifiers, with 15 of the top 16 advancing to Saturday’s matches. Kilkenny’s Jan Browne defeated Castlewarden’s Clodagh Walsh 2&1 in the day’s only upset.

Leading qualifier Beth Coulter was taken to the 17th hole by Hannah Lee-McNamara, while Lahinch’s Aine Donegan and Ballybunion’s Emma O’Driscoll both recorded 5&3 wins.

Rachel Thompson was the only player to win in Round 1 on extra holes. The Cork golfer defeated Lauren Murray on the 19th hole, and was relieved to advance.

“I played better on Thursday, but I’m delighted to advance to the weekend. It was good to get a match going down the 19th hole and feel that pressure before tomorrow. Playing only one round today, I didn’t mind going into extra holes and getting the adrenaline pumping.” 

Kanturk’s Mairead Martin is a former member of Ballybunion GC, and after a 2&1 win over Hannah Guerin, she hopes to have a long weekend.

“I’m playing it day by day and will see what happens tomorrow. It’s great to be back here on a course I know, and I’m excited to see what the weekend holds. It’s all about enjoying myself out there tomorrow.

In the Ita Wallace Plate, Charlie Maxwell, Molly O’Hara, Leah Temple Lang and Emma Gilmore reached Saturday morning’s Semi-Finals, while those in the AIG Irish Women's Amateur Close Championship will have to win twice to reach Sunday’s final four.

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