Gale force winds made life hell for Ireland’s sextet of contenders in the Welsh Open Ladies Amateur Stroke Play at Conwy but in the end it wasn’t Olivia Mehaffey or fellow Curtis Cup team mate Maria Dunne who led the way but Sinéad Sexton.
The determined Lahinch player fired a superb, four over 77 in high winds to share the first round lead with England’s Gemma Clews, one stroke clear of Lianna Bailey of England and Wales’ Angharad Evans.
As scores soared as high as 98, Sexton bogeyed the first and third and then made a triple bogey seven at the fourth to go five over.
But she birdied the seventh and ninth to turn in 39, then sandwiched a birdie at the 14th between bogeys at the 13th and 15th in a fine homeward 38.
Defending champion Mehaffey, who was out in the first group, posted a six over 79 to share fifth place with Jessica Ross on 7 over with Cork’s Rachel Thompson l? tied ninth after an 80.
It was more of a struggle for the rest of the Irish with Shannon Burke shooting 85 and Skerries star Dunne, fresh from the delight of her Curtis Cup call up on Thursday, racking up three sevens in an 86 that left her tied 56th on 13 over.
Chloe Ryan had an even tougher day, posting a 90 that left her six shots outside the top 40 and ties who will make the cut after the second round in this 54 hole event.
Welsh Open Ladies Amateur Stroke Play
- T1 SEXTON, Sinéad (Lahinch) +4 77
- T5 MEHAFFEY, Olivia (RCD Ladies) +6 79
- T9 THOMSON, Rachel (Cork) +7 80
- T9 ROSS, Jessica (Donaghadee) +7 80
- T48 BURKE, Shannon (Ballinrobe/MU) +12 85
- T56 DUNNE, Maria (Skerries) +13 86
- T73 RYAN, Chloe (Castletroy) +17 90.