Sweden’s Maria Hjorth battled tough conditions to shoot a five-under-par 67 and lead the AIB Ladies Irish Open by one shot from England’s Melissa Reid as Irish twins Lisa and Leona Maguire impressed with a matching pair of level par 72s.
Scotland’s Carly Booth, 18, and Anna Nordqvist are two of a group of players a shot further adrift of Reid.
Carlow’s Rebecca Coakley is the best placed of the home players following a 71, placing her alongside American’s Brittany Lincicome and Angela Stanford in a group at one under par.
Big-hitting Swede Hjorth, who missed the cut at last week’s Ricoh Women’s British Open, powered out of the blocks and was four under par after she completed the back nine, her front nine. A solid closing nine of 35 was enough to give her an opening round of five under par.
Soon after finishing her round Hjorth admitted via her Twitter page that she was pleased with the day after battling both the weather and illness.
She said: “I am very happy with five under. My cold is still pretty bad, I just hope to get some rest and be ready for tomorrow.”
Reid, currently fourth in the European Solheim Cup standings, took just 24 putts in a round that included six birdies, an eagle and a double bogey.
The 22 year-old said: “I felt I putted really well on the front nine. I didn’t feel I could have done any better than four under going out.
“All in all, a pretty good day and I’d probably have taken 68 if you’d have given me that on the first tee.”
The Maguire twins, playing at opposite ends of the day, both had to deal with the pressue of playing with illustrious playing partners as they looked to make an impression on home soil.
Leona was the first to get her round underway and, in the company of Reid and Suzann Pettersen, she opened her round with an ugly double bogey at her first hole before composing herself to get it round in level par.
Playing much later in the day at just before 2pm, Lisa was in a group with last week’s Ricoh Women’s British Open runner-up Katherine Hull and the iconic Laura Davies.
Despite a nightmare treble bogey at the short sixth, the teen from Slieve Russell recorded four birdies on her way to a level par round, leaving the bragging rights in the Maguire family well and truly up for grabs going into the weekend.
Of the other Irish players in the field, Martina Gillen and Danielle McVeigh managed two-over par 74s while Tara Delaney could only manage a five-over-par round of 77.
It was a day to forget for Hazel Kavanagh and Claire Coughlan-Ryan though, they signed for 81 and 82 respectively to leave them well down the field.