KirkwoodGolf: Scottish women's open amateur stroke play tees off at Troon Portland

Friday, April 22, 2016

Scottish women's open amateur stroke play tees off at Troon Portland

Young Shannon and Jillian keep Helen Holm fires

 burning with par 72s for tied ninth on Day 1

Three Scots in the leading 13 is slightly overshadowed by Ireland's four players in the top seven at the end of the first round , but for a host country that has not provided the winner of the Helen Holm Scottish women's open amateur stroke-play championship since Heather Stirling in 2002, it's been an encouraging start at Troon Portland.
Of course, if 18-year-old defending champion Olivia Mehaffey (Royal Co Down Ladies), who leads by two shots with a brilliant, bogey-free round of five-under-par 67, carries on like this, it will be a case of "who's going to be second?"
Mehaffey, ranked No 9 in the world of female amateurs and already winner of an Irish title in the month of April, is going to be a key player in GB and I's bid to wrest the Curtis Cup out of the Americans' grasp at Dun Laoghaire Golf Club, near Dublin in June.
So team captain Elaine Farquharson-Black (Deeside), herself the winner of the "Helen Holm" in 1987, will have been mighty happy with Olivia's form as the Aberdeen solicitor walked the Portland fairways, running the rule over the Curtis Cup team selection contenders in this the last LGU Order of Merit counting event before the eight-strong side is announced next Thursday.
Shannon McWilliam (Aboyne), pictured right, and another youngster, Jillian Farrell (Cardross) both returned commendable par 72s to be sharing ninth place in a  strong field.
Shannon led with six holes to play in last year's "Helen Holm." It is often forgotten that the lass from Torphins is still only 16 going on 17. She was two over par after eight holes this year but went on to birdie the ninth, 11th, 13th and 15th. The kid's got class.
So too has Jillian, pictured left, who birdied the third, 12th and 17th. But for a bogey at the 18th, she would have had a par 71.
Also with a par 72 to her credit is Curtis Cup place chaser Meghan MacLaren (Wellingborough), who won her USA conference title earlier this week and then jumped on a plane to Scotland to try to boost her LGU Order of Merit standing in the "Helen Holm."
Meghan, winner of eight tournaments in her four years on the American women's college circuit, dropped four shots over the next six holes after opening with a birdie 4 at the long first today.
She bogeyed the second, double bogeyed the sixth and dropped another shot at the seventh.
Then MacLaren was three under par for her remaining 11 holes, birdieing the short eighth, long 12th and 17th.
Eilidh Briggs (Kilmacolm) played in the 2014 Curtis Cup match in America but an injury ruined her 2015 season and she dropped well down the world rankings.
But Eilidh (pictured left )won the Renfrewshire county championship last week and her opening round of one-over 73 at Troon confirms the impression  that she is on the way back. She had only one birdie, at the fifth, sandwiched between bogeys at the second and eighth but Briggs reeled off 10 straight pars after that - a good performance. 
The leading 66 players and ties after the end of Saturday play will advance to Sunday's third round over the Royal Troon Open Championship links.
At the moment the cut will be at nine-over-par which would be 153 and ties if the weather stays the same.
In danger of not qualifying are highly rated Clitheroe (Lancashire) player Sophie Lamb and Aberdeenshire county champion Sammy Leslie, playing out of Kemnay Golf Club this season.
They are both on the 11-over 83 mark. Sophie is well placed in the LGU Order of Merit table to claim one of the two automatic Curtis Cup team selection berths via that route.
Leslie had a triple bogey 7 at the sixth and a double bogey 6 at the seventh - five shots "gone" over just two holes. Her only birdie was a 2 at the short 16th. 
Like Sophie Lamb, Rochelle Morris (Woodsome Hall) will be making her Curtis Cup debut for GB and I at Dun Laoghaire if the LGU Order of Merit table stays the same way as it was coming into this tournament but an 82 (43-39) today means the pressure is on her to give an international-class performance on Saturday.
Spare a thought for Nairn youngster Carine Taylor who was doing not too badly when she reached the turn late in the day with an outward half of 41.  But with six holes to go, it all unravelled for Carine. She had two triple bogey 7s and a double bogey 5 and 45 home gave her an 86.

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