Grant leads qualifiers for Ladies British Open; five Irish make matchplay
 Paula Grant. Picture:  Pat Cashman

Paula Grant. Picture: Pat Cashman

Paula Grant added a three-under-par round of 68 to her opening 71 to lead the qualifiers for the matchplay stage of the 114th Ladies’ British Open Amateur Championship at Pyle & Kenfig in south Wales.

Five of the 10 Irish entrants made the cut with world No 1 Leona Maguire, Olivia Mehaffey, Mairead Martin and Chloe Ryan also making the top 64.

Grant, who won the Irish Women’s Close Championship at Ballybunion in 2013, recovered from two dropped shots early on to card two birdies and a superb eagle three on the fifth hole before reaching the turn. 

Three further birdies on the back nine ensured that Grant signed off for a round of 68, topping the leaderboard on a four-under-par total of 138, finishing one ahead of Germany's Laura Funfstuck, Mathilde Claisse of France and Sweden's Linn Grant.

“I wasn’t really going out there expecting to be leading after finishing the round so it was nice to come off there and be at the top," Grant said.  

"I putted quite well today and holed a few nice putts to keep the momentum going when I was under pressure. The eagle on the fifth really kickstarted the round."

Grant will face Denmark's Cecilie Finne-Ipsen in the first round on Thursday and she's looking forward to the challenge.

“I want to see how far I can go in the match play," she said. "I feel confident and anything can happen when it’s match play. 

"It’s good to shoot a couple of good scores going into the match play. I’ve started being a bit more aggressive in stroke play so I wouldn’t hope to change a whole lot going into the match play. I’m trying to stick to the game plan and go for it.”

Overnight leader Linn Grant endured a more difficult day in the second round of stroke play qualifying, posting a 75 to finish tied for second place on a two-under-par total of 140.

The Swede, who recently won the Helen Holm Scottish Open Stroke Play Championship and the German Girls’ Open, delivered a mixed round which included four birdies, five bogeys and two double-bogeys.

Funfstuck carded the low round of the day, a four-under-par 67 which propelled the German into joint second place.  

Leona Maguire finished eighth on level-par after rounds of 70 and 72 and takes on Spain's Elena Hualde Zuniga while Mehaffey, who was 16th on two-over, meets Scotland's Chloe Goadby with Kanturk's Martin set to face Ariane Klotz of France as Ryan plays  Amanda Linnér of Sweden.

The cut for the top 64 players fell at eight-over-par but Curtis Cup player Maria Dunne had a bad day, adding an 83 to her first round 69 to miss out by two shots.

Ladies' British Open Amateur Championship, Pyle & Kenfig, Wales (Par 71)

Detailed scores / Matchplay draw

1 GRANT, Paula (Lisburn) 70 68 138
8 MAGUIRE, Leona (Slieve Russell) 70 72 142
16 MEHAFFEY, Olivia (Royal County Down Ladies) 71 73 144
17 MARTIN, Mairead (Kanturk) 71 74 145
29 RYAN, Chloe (Castletroy) 75 72 147

CUT

90 DUNNE, Maria (Skerries) 69 83 152
105 MAGUIRE, Lisa (Slieve Russell) 73 82 155
106 CASEY, Ciara (Hermitage) 73 82 155
120 SEXTON, Sinead (Lahinch) 86 73 159
139 CLANCY, Valerie (Killarney) 87 76 163