Olivia Mehaffey had the lowest score, but teenage schoolgirl Annabel Wilson summed up Ireland's fighting spirit a with battling performance on the opening day of the World Amateur Team Championship at Carton House.
Determined to back up a breakthrough, bronze medal-winning performance in Mexico two years ago, the Irish trio ended the opening day tied for sixth with Australia on three-under par, just five shots behind leaders Japan in the battle for the Espirito Santo Trophy.
With Leona Maguire now a professional, Wilson and Mehaffey return to the fray for Ireland after their heroics in Mexico.
And while a two over 74 was not what Lisburn's Paula Grant wanted from a tough opening joust with the bunker-strewn Montgomerie Course, Ireland had enough strength in depth with Mehaffey carding a two-under 70 and Wilson a one-under 71 to leave the girls in green very much in the hunt.
Wilson is such a natural talent that she was blissfully unaware that playing partner Jennifer Kupcho was the world number one until she was told in a post-round press conference.
“I knew the Americans were one, two and three but I didn’t know she was No 1,” Wilson said to gales of laughter.
The American birdied the 18th to shoot 70 and beat Wilson by one, but a 72 for Lilia Vu and a 74 for Kristen Gillman left the USA tied for eighth and six behind Japan heading to the easier O’Meara Course today.
Japan’s 17-year-old Yuka Yasuda shot a seven-under 65 on the Montgomerie Course and with her teammates both shooting 71, they hold a two-stroke lead over China, who played the easier O’Meara Course yesterday, on eight-under.
“I am happy with our lead, but this is only the first day,” Yasuda said. “Even though I am happy I still need to keep going with how I did today for the rest of the week.”
It’s little wonder that Irish captain Danielle McVeigh was proud of her charges with Mehaffey tied for eighth in the individual standings after making two great par saves from six and nine feet at the 16th and 18th as the wind freshened on the back nine.
"The girls stayed very patient out there," said McVeigh. "The course threw a lot of challenges at them, so I think that really paid dividends, especially coming up the back nine.
"They really ground it out well. So I'm incredibly proud of them and how they handled themselves."
Mehaffey had the honour of hitting the opening shot as early morning fog was quickly burned off in bright sunshine.
But while she opened with a nervy bogey, her nerves faded when she pitched straight into the hole from 23 yards for an unlikely birdie two at the third.
"I was a bit more nervous than I thought," said Mehaffey, who birdied the fifth and lipped out with an eagle chip at the eighth to turn in two under. "I didn’t expect so many people to be out there at a 7.45am tee time on a Wednesday.
"When I pitched straight into the hole at the third that gave me a wee bit more momentum, and I felt a wee bit more relaxed. I just pushed on from there and didn’t look back."
Three-under after hitting a wedge to a foot at the 322-yard 13th, she had to hole a six-footer for par after a brilliant pitch at the tough 16th and a nine-footer for her par-five at the 18th after finding sand from the tee.
"I have never played the Monty so hard," Mehaffey said. "It was really tough, and anything around even or one over is pretty good today. So it felt pretty good to shoot a couple under."
Wilson admitted she struggled off the tee, but she was pleased to battle her way home in level for her 71 as she mixed birdies at the sixth, eighth and 15th with bogeys at the second and 13th.
“I was playing with what I got and just kind of trying to poke them onto the fairway because some of them were wild,” she said with a grin.
“My iron play was very solid, gave myself a lot of chances within 15 feet the whole way through the round.
“Solid day one but three more days to go, so we’re just sticking to what we do and hoping to have a good round tomorrow on the O’Meara Course.”
Grant was made four birdies but was left to rue four bogeys and a double bogey at the 12th as well as a lip out for birdie from four feet at the 17th.
“It was tough enough out there, but I just made too many silly mistakes,” Grant said. “The birdies were good but not when the bogeys cancel them out. Hopefully, I can put a better score in tomorrow and make that one count.”
World Amateur Team Championship, Espirito Santo Trophy, Carton House, Maynooth
Championship Standings after Round One
136 Japan (Yoshida 71, Yasuda 65, Nishimura 71)
140 People's Republic of China (Du 67, Liu 77, Yin 73)
140 Republic of Korea (Kwon 74, Hong 72, Cho 68)
141 Australia (Kay 68, Kim 73, Hodgkins 75)
141 Ireland (Mehaffey 70, Grant 74, Wilson 71)
142 Austria (Bettel 69, Ruettimann 76, Spitz 73)
142 Germany (Harm 70, Hausmann 73, Henseleit 72)
142 United States of America (Gillman 74, Vu 72, Kupcho 70)
143 Italy (Don 70, Paltrinieri 76, Nobilio 73)
144 Hong Kong, China (Cheung 70, Ho 74, Leung 78)
145 Venezuela (Raga 73, Gilly 84, De Antonio 72)
147 Belgium (Aveling 78, Louis 73, Van Dievoet 74)
147 Denmark (Fredgaard 79, Nielsen 75, Hansen 72)
147 Mexico (Lopez 73, Ruiz Laphond 79, Fassi 74)
147 Netherlands (Bontan 72, Meekers 75, Weber 77)
147 Sweden (Kinhult 74, Wallin 80, Grant 73)
147 Switzerland (Valenzuela 73, Berger 79, Moosmann 74)
147 Thailand (Boon-In 77, Piddon 70, Tatematsu 77)
148 Dominican Republic (Corrie-Kuehn 82, Kim 77, Kuehn 71)
148 Finland (Backman 75, Saksa 76, Riihijarvi 73)
148 France (Roussin-Bouchard 72, Broze 76, Laisne 76)
148 Guatemala (Echeverria 73, Mendizabal Riepele 75, Arenas 81)
148 New Zealand (Alvarez 73, Garvey 76, Keh 75)
148 Scotland (Jaffrey 74, McCook 77, McWilliam 74)
149 England (Fuller 74, Muse 77, Lamb 75)
149 Paraguay (Escauriza Stoeckl 72, Garcia Peralta 83, Servin 77)
150 Czech Republic (Ryskova 77, Vlasinova 77, Kouskova 73)
150 Morocco (Laklalech 78, Rich 84, Belmati 72)
150 Norway (Stormo 77, Forbrigd 73, Hjelle Grimstad 78)
150 Puerto Rico (Rodriguez 77, Rivera 75, Pacheco Claudio 75)
150 South Africa (Telfer 75, Mistry 79, MacNab 75)
151 India (Dagar 74, Dilawari 77, Sagoo 78)
152 Argentina (Anacona 75, Rossi 79, Simmermacher 77)
152 Spain (Marfa Sans 80, Hualde Zuniga 77, Perez Sanmartin 75)
153 Chinese Taipei (Lin 74, Lin 79, Huang 79)
154 Brazil (Grinberg 74, Lacaz Martins 88, de Araujo Caetano 80)
154 Canada (Ko 78, Lee 76, Szeryk 80)
154 Chile (Morgan 78, Matte 80, Villavicencio 76)
154 Colombia (Garces Escalante 75, Giraldo Roys 83, Serrano Silva 79)
154 Malaysia (Shaari 78, Wong 76, Durisic 78)
154 Uruguay (Schmid 76, Marques 79, Garcia Austt Marques 78)
155 Iceland (Kristinsdottir 85, Traustadottir 76, Einarsdottir 79)
155 Lithuania (Jarasunaite 80, Starkute 75)
157 Peru (Farah 75, Ballesteros 82, Fernandez-Davila 82)
157 Slovakia (Heckova 80, Drocarova 81, Bolcikova 77)
157 Wales (Morris 79, Ryan 81, O'Connor 78)
158 Portugal (Barroso Sa 80, Bessa 78, Gouveia 81)
158 Singapore (Chen 82, Ng 79, Tan 79)
159 Poland (Polivchak 87, Gradecka 76, Zalewska 83)
160 Slovenia (Fric 81, Obersnel 73, Jecnik 83)
161 Turkey (Ersoy 83, Bilgic 80, Timur 81)
162 Guam (Tarpley 87, Vongjalorn 78, Peterson 84)
165 Bulgaria (Borisova 82, Simeonova 83, Skokanska 90)
165 Latvia (Gustafssone 89, Jucmane 79, Marksa 86)
168 Lebanon (Assaf 100, Richani 79, Assaf 89)
168 Tunisia (Ladhari 86, Mansouri 84, Saki 84)
169 Ukraine (Rastvortseva 81, Horokhovska 88, Sapronova 98)
Individual Scores (M = Montgomerie Course; O = O’Meara Course)
65 M Y Yasuda (JPN);
67 O M Du (CHN);
68 M A Cho (KOR); M R Kay (AUS);
69 O L Bettel (AUT);
70 M C Don (ITA); M J Kupcho (USA); O L Harm (GER); O M Cheung (HKG); M O Mehaffey (IRL); M T Piddon (THA);
71 M A Wilson (IRL); O R Kuehn (DOM); M Y Nishimura (JPN); M Y Yoshida (JPN);
72 O C De Antonio (VEN); O E Henseleit (GER); O L Belmati (MAR); M L Vu (USA); M M Escauriza Stoeckl (PAR); M M Hansen (DEN); O P Roussin-Bouchard (FRA); M Y Hong (KOR); M Z Bontan (NED);
73 M A Nobilio (ITA); O A Raga (VEN); M A Valenzuela (SUI); O C Lopez (MEX); M C Louis (BEL); O D Forbrigd (NOR); O E Spitz (AUT); M G Kim (AUS); M J Alvarez (NZL); O K Riihijarvi (FIN); M L Grant (SWE); O P Echeverria (GUA); O R Yin (CHN); O S Hausmann (GER); O S Kouskova (CZE);
74 M A Fuller (ENG); O C Jaffrey (SCO); M D Dagar (IND); M E Moosmann (SUI); M E Van Dievoet (BEL); M F Kinhult (SWE); M K Gillman (USA); O L Grinberg (BRA);
74 O M Fassi (MEX); O M Ho (HKG); M P Grant (IRL); M S Kwon (KOR); O S McWilliam (SCO); O T Lin (TPE);
75 O A Backman (FIN); O C MacNab (RSA); M E Anacona (ARG); O G Starkute (LTU); O J Rivera (PUR); M K Hodgkins (AUS); O K Telfer (RSA); M M Farah (PER); O M Perez Sanmartin (ESP); M R Meekers (NED); M S Garces Escalante (COL); M S Lamb (ENG); M S Nielsen (DEN); O V Mendizabal Riepele (GUA); O V Pacheco Claudio (PUR); M W Keh (NZL);
76 M A Garvey (NZL); O A Laisne (FRA); M D Gradecka (POL); O E Broze (FRA); M E Paltrinieri (ITA); O E Saksa (FIN); M G Wong (MAS); M J Lee (CAN); O J Ruettimann (AUT); M N Villavicencio (CHI); M P Schmid (URU); O S Traustadottir (ISL);
77 M A Bolcikova (SVK); M A Servin (PAR); M D Weber (NED); O E Hualde Zuniga (ESP); O H McCook (SCO); M H Muse (ENG); O H Ryskova (CZE); O K Stormo (NOR); O K Vlasinova (CZE); M M Simmermacher (ARG); M N Boon-In (THA); M R Dilawari (IND); M R Tatematsu (THA); O W Liu (CHN); O Y Kim (DOM); O Y Rodriguez (PUR);
78 M C Aveling (BEL); O I Laklalech (MAR); O I Leung (HKG);
78 M K O'Connor (WAL); O L Bessa (POR); M L Durisic (MAS); M N Ko (CAN); O N Vongjalorn (GUM); O R Hjelle Grimstad (NOR); M S Garcia Austt Marques (URU); M S Morgan (CHI); M S Sagoo (IND); M S Shaari (MAS);
79 O A Ruiz Laphond (MEX); M B Morris (WAL); O H Einarsdottir (ISL); M I Ng (SGP); M J Marques (URU); M K Fredgaard (DEN); O K Lin (TPE); O K Mistry (RSA); M M Jucmane (LAT); M M Serrano Silva (COL); M S Tan (SGP); M V Obersnel (SLO); O V Richani (LBN); M V Rossi (ARG); M Y Berger (SUI); O Y Huang (TPE);
80 M A Matte (CHI); M B Wallin (SWE); M D Bilgic (TUR); O L de Araujo Caetano (BRA); M M Szeryk (CAN); M N Heckova (SVK); O P Marfa Sans (ESP); O S Barroso Sa (POR); O S Jarasunaite (LTU);
81 O B Arenas (GUA); O E Rastvortseva (UKR); M I Fric (SLO); M J Ryan (WAL); M K Drocarova (SVK); O S Gouveia (POR); M S Timur (TUR);
82 O B Corrie-Kuehn (DOM); M C Chen (SGP); M D Ballesteros (PER); M J Fernandez-Davila (PER); O M Borisova (BUL);
83 M D Zalewska (POL); O I Simeonova (BUL); M L Jecnik (SLO); M S Ersoy (TUR); M S Garcia Peralta (PAR); M V Giraldo Roys (COL);
84 O G Saki (TUN); O H Mansouri (TUN); O I Rich (MAR); O R Peterson (GUM); O V Gilly (VEN);
85 O R Kristinsdottir (ISL);
86 M A Marksa (LAT); O K Ladhari (TUN);
87 M N Polivchak (POL); O R Tarpley (GUM);
88 O D Horokhovska (UKR); O M Lacaz Martins (BRA);
89 M K Gustafssone (LAT); O S Assaf (LBN);
90 O S Skokanska (BUL);
98 O V Sapronova (UKR);
100 O L Assaf (LBN).