Golf

Eleven Irish golfers tee up at the Welsh Ladies' Open Strokeplay Championship

Olivia Mehaffey (Royal County Down Ladies), winner of the 2016 Irish Women's Close Amateur Championship at Lahinch Golf Club on May 15 2016. Picture by Pat Cashman.
Tony McGee

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Eleven Irish players will be bidding to emulate the deeds of Olivia Mehaffey (Royal County Down Ladies) when they tee-up in the Welsh Ladies' Open Strokeplay Championship, on May 12 at Ashburnham.

Curtis Cup play Mehaffey, now trading her talents on the Collegiate Golf circuit in America, brought the title to Ireland in both 2015 and 2016.

Leading the Irish challenge this time will be Curtis Cup player Maria Dunne (Skerries) and also in the draw is her team colleague Rochelle Morris from England, plus a host of other senior internationals. The competition is played over three days, May 12 to 14.

Lisburn member Paula Grant, who finished joint 21st in the Helen Holm Scottish Strokeplay Championship, two weeks ago, will join Irtish senior Internationals Jessica Ross (Clandeboye), Louise Coffey (Malone), Maria Dunne (Skerries), Sinead Sexton (Lahinch) and Mary Doyle (The Heath) in a strong bid for the title.

Despite not being as well seasoned, at senior International events, as their fellow Irish competitors, Lauren Walsh (Castlewarden), Emma Forbes (Royal Portrush), Ellen O'Gorman (Milltown), Rachel Thompson (Cork) and Georgia Carr (Milltown) will be looking for a boost before heading into a busy U18 summer season.

Meanwhile, Irish players are causing major waves in the States as the US College Golf 2016-2017 season is coming to an end.

Coming off winning back-to-back tournaments, the eighth-ranked Duke College women's team is preparing for the NCAA Regional Championships. The Blue Devils will travel to either Columbus, Ohio, Texas, Georgia or Albuquerque next week.

Not surprising, World No 1 Leona Maguire, who has been the outstanding Blue Devil since she joined the North Carolina University, is also listed at No 1 in the latest Sagarin Performance Index. The Cavan girl is having one of the best seasons in Blue Devil history. She has registered three victories, including a win at the ACC Championship in South Carolina, and eight top 10 finishes in eight other tournaments. She currently features a 69.68 stroke average, which is one of the lowest in NCAA history.

University of Denver Senior and Holywood native Jessica Carty recently helped her Pioneers' team to a win in the Summit League Championship for a fourth consecutive year. The Summit League, which this year is celebrating its 35th season of Division One athletics, includes nine institutions across a number of states.

Denver entered the final round two shots behind but a tournament-low round of 293, which included a level-par 72 from Carty, edged the Pioneers to a six strokes victory.

Arizona State Freshman Olivia Mehaffey has had some alterations to make since starting her golf scholarship last September.

Like Maguire and Carty would have had to do before her, Mehaffey had to adjust to American culture, food, education and a new style of golf courses that couldn't be further from the links of Royal County Down.

However, as the end of her first season approaches she has recorded back-to-back top-10 finishes at the Clover Cup (6th) and the Anuenue Spring Break Classic (5th) in Maui, as well as, finishing tied 22nd at the Pac 12 Women's Championship at Sewailo Golf Club in Tucson, Arizona.

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