Grant and Murray defy high winds at Baltray
 Alessia Nobilio (ITA), Sophie Lamb (ENG), Jessica Ross (Clandeboye) struggle in the wind during the first round of the Irish Women's Open Strokeplay Championship at Co Louth Golf Club, Baltray. Picture: Golffile | Fran Caffrey   

Alessia Nobilio (ITA), Sophie Lamb (ENG), Jessica Ross (Clandeboye) struggle in the wind during the first round of the Irish Women's Open Strokeplay Championship at Co Louth Golf Club, Baltray. Picture: Golffile | Fran Caffrey

 

Lisburn's Paula Grant needed all her experience to defy winds gusting over 40mph (65 kmph) to fire a five-over 79 for a share of the first round lead in the Irish Women’s Open Stroke Play Championship at County Louth.

Just 12 months after the now-retired Maria Dunne opened with a nine-under 66 en route to a memorable victory at Baltray, rain squalls and a stiff southerly wind made life miserable for the 66-strong field and only Delgany's Lauren Murray — winner of last year's East of Ireland Mixed Foursomes with Marc Nolan — could match Grant at the top of the leaderboard.

 Paula Grant (Lisburn) checks the wind direction during the first round of the Irish Women's Open Strokeplay at Baltray. Picture: Golffile | Fran Caffrey   

Paula Grant (Lisburn) checks the wind direction during the first round of the Irish Women's Open Strokeplay at Baltray. Picture: Golffile | Fran Caffrey

 

Called up for Curtis Cup duty in New York next month, reigning Irish Women's Close champion Grant mixed three birdies with six bogeys and a double bogey at the par-three 15th to post 79 in the first group of the day.

"It was cold wet and very, very windy," Grant said. "I plotted my way around quite nicely and was glad to get in with 79.

"The 15th was 136 yards but I hit hybrid short, pitched up to 12 feet and three-putted!"

Despite starting with a double-bogey six, Murray looked set to lead on her own when she made five birdies and came the last needing a par-five for a 77. 

But she ran up a double bogey seven to finish the day tied with Grant, one shot ahead of South Africa's Chloe Royston and Wales' Jordan Ryan on five-over.

Grant's Curtis Cup teammate Sophie Lamb is tied for fifth after a seven-over 81 while Douglas' Sara Byrne, Grange's Elisa Corcoran and Rossmore's Kate Dwyer are tied for 11th after 82s.

Irish Women's Open Strokeplay, County Louth GC (Par 74)

Detailed scores

79 L Murray (Delgany), P Grant (Lisburn); 

80 C Royston (South Africa), J Ryan (Wal); 

81 B Bjornsdottir (Iceland), H McCook (Sco), C McGinty (Eng), C Gainer (Eng), R Meekers (Netherlands), S Lamb (Eng); 

82 S Byrne (Douglas), E Corcoran (Grange), K Dwyer (Rossmore), C Goadby (Sco); 

83 E Lewis (Eng), M Giles (Eng); 

84 E Forbes (Royal Portrush), L Temple  Lang (Elm Park), C Whitehead (Eng), K Lanigan (Hermitage), E Briggs (Sco); 

85 K O'Neill (Douglas), G Batty (Sco), A Sawyer (Eng), L Walsh (Castlewarden), J Browne (Kilkenny), L Jones (Wal), C Manzalini (Ita); 

86 D Harry (Wal), S Burke (Ballinrobe), O Purfield-Goulding (Co Louth), E Healey (Eng), J Ross (Clandeboye), O Kelly (Wal), D Smith (Co. Louth), G Allman (Eng); 

87 L Bramwell (Wal), G Carr (Milltown); 

88 B Coulter (Kirkistown Castle), C Leathem (Eng), F Tynan (Wal); 

89 V Clancy (Killarney), E Thorne  (Elm Park), K Coey (Clandeboye), M Doyle (The Heath), R Mc Donnell (Elm Park); 

90 B Rook (Eng), L Hillier (Wal), L Simpson (Massereene), C Worby (Wal); 

91 B O'Keeffe (Eng), K O'Connor (Wal), A Nobilio (Ita), J Hall (Eng), L Belmati (Mor), A O'Riordan (Eng), I Holpfer (Aut); 

92 R Barton (Wal); 

93 A Foster (Elm Park), N Borg (Swe); 

94 D McCooke (Galgorm Castle), S Crowe (Naas), A Fanali (Ita); 

95 L Masding (Old Conna), S Burke (Mullingar); 

97 G Price (Eng).