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British Amateur Ladies Open: McVeigh’s bitter-sweet opener

Royal County Down’s Danielle McVeigh knows she can’t afford the sort of slip-up she endured at the ninth yesterday if she is to sustain her British Amateur title challenge at Royal Portrush.

An ugly double-bogey seven to close her front nine wiped out the advantage she had carved out with a brilliant eagle three a couple of holes earlier.

But she didn’t let the error play on her mind as she played the back nine in two under despite steadily worsening weather conditions for a 72 which left her four shots off the overnight lead held by 15-year-old Australian Minjee Lee at six under.

Kilkeel woman McVeigh is still in great shape to secure a top qualifying spot for the knockout rounds which begin after tomorrow’s second round.

Lee heads the field by three shots with McVeigh’s two under 72 putting her into an overnight tie for seventh place with a group of five players on three under.

That includes a 14-year-old from New Zealand, Lydia Ko, rated number one in the women’s world amateur rankings, playing off an unbelievable +6.2 handicap.

Royal Portrush is a first taste of links golf for Lee, who was taught to play the game at home in Western Australia by her mother, a qualified golf pro.

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“We don’t have links course in my part of Australia but I had two good practice rounds learning to hit the ball clean off the turf,” she said.

“It’s a different kind of golf, but I like it.

“I had only 27 putts so I would say that putting was the strongest part of my game today.”

Lee, who plays off plus four, had eight birdies, although she three-putted the second and had a five at the 14th after missing the birdie to account for her two dropped shots.

Stephanie Meadow, playing the championship on her home track, came home with a level par 74 to lie in joint 19th overnight.

It was a disappointing day for both Maguire twins. Lisa had a one over par round of 75 to lie in joint 28th place while Leona came home with a 78 to sit joint 62nd, right on the cut mark with the top 64 going through to the knockout stages.

Charlene Reid, also from Royal Portrush, is one shot behind Lisa Maguire as is Bangor’s Victoria Bradshaw. Louise Coffey from Malone is on seven over, in a tie for 90th place while Strabane veteran Helen Jones is 10 over par.

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