The R&A - Working for Golf

Coulter holds first round lead at Fulford

● Coulter heads the field at inaugural Girls Under 16 Open Championship

● Welsh pair Carys Worby and Ffion Tynan only two strokes behind

History made as 90 players tee off in new event at renowned venue

Beth Coulter produced her best-ever start to a competitive event after posting a brilliant five-under-par round of 69 to claim a two-stroke lead at the inaugural Girls Under 16 Open Championship at Fulford.

 

The Irish girl, who has only just turned 14-years-old, handled the challenging, wet conditions to fire seven birdies and drop just two shots during the first round at the new 54-hole stroke play event.

Coulter, a reserve for Great Britain and Ireland in last year’s Junior Vagliano Trophy side, almost aced the par-3 third and never looked back, finishing with four birdies to mark an excellent performance on the back nine.

“I don’t know how it didn’t go in at the third,” said Coulter, from Kirkistown Castle in County Down. “But I’m happy enough after day one. I was glad the wind wasn’t blowing, just handling the rain. It’s a really well set up event, the facilities are great and it was good to see where I’m at in my age group.”

Ireland's Coulter holds two-shot lead after day one
Ireland's Coulter holds two-shot lead after day one

Welsh duo shine in rain

After Sweden’s Ester Fagersten struck the opening drive to begin the new championship – one designed to boost the girls’ game in Great Britain and Ireland and beyond – it was Wales’ Carys Worby who claimed the early clubhouse lead on three under par. The Newport Links player was soon joined by her compatriot and 2018 Scottish Girls Open champion, Ffion Tynan.

The Junior Vagliano duo, both 15, sit two shots ahead of Rafiah Banday (Royal Mid Surrey) and another Swede, Minonna Falkman Lehes, who share fourth place on one-under-par 73.

Worby said, “I’ve had a couple of tough tournaments recently, scraped a couple of cuts, so it’s nice to get in a score I’ve been waiting for. There are birdie opportunities out there.

“Myself and Ffion are quite competitive and her winning the Scottish Girls recently was great for Wales Golf. Hopefully one of us can win this week as well.”

Darling in chasing pack

Minchinhampton’s Tynan, who produced a hat-trick of birdies from the 13th and a long putt on the 18th for another, added, “I had missed a few putts, lipping out, so I went for it on the back nine. I almost made an eagle on 13 and kicked on from there. It’s such a great course. Seeing Carys up there too is great, I love seeing people I know do well as it just makes the experience so much better.”

Broomieknowes’s Hannah Darling, a three-time winner in Scotland last year, is among those in the chasing pack on level par. “I’m trying not to think about another win, if it comes then great,” she said. “But it’s all about experience in these events. I’ve worked hard and I feel I’m playing better than last year.”

Fulford, hosting an event organised by The R&A for the first time, is regarded as one of the best inland courses in the UK and will also stage the Girls Under 16 Open Championship in 2019 and 2020. The event has no cut with a further 18 holes this Saturday and Sunday.

First round scores from Girls Under 16 Open Championship HERE