Sweden’s Ingrid Lindblad finished in style to top stroke play qualifying at the 90th Girls British Open Amateur Championship.
On a blustery day over the renowned links at Ardglass in County Down, Lindblad emerged from the third last group to be the only player under par and lead 64 qualifiers to the match play stage.
The 18-year-old carded two closing birdies for an impressive two-under-par 68 and a three-under total, finishing three shots clear of France’s Mathilde Claisse.
“My putting has been really great, on both days,” said Lindblad. “It was nice to finish so well too and win the stroke play.
“I know I can hit some low scores but it’s not been easy in the wind. I won the German Girls in May, so hopefully I can win my match tomorrow morning and go as far as possible in this event.”
Claisse, also 18, who played in last year’s Junior Solheim Cup, posted two birdies and three bogeys in her 71 for a level-par aggregate.
She said, “I did the simple things again, hitting fairways and greens, and it worked out well. I was saying to my French team-mates that this may be the hardest course I’ve ever played, especially with the wind. I’m really happy and hope to be well-rested for the match play.”
Earlier, South African Caitlyn Macnab produced the round of the day on her championship debut. The 16-year-old from Johannesburg, who has Scottish heritage through her great grandfather, shrugged off a double bogey at the 11th to reel off seven birdies in her superb 67.
Macnab said, “My putter was on fire, I one-putted seven of the back nine holes and that really helped. I hit fairways, greens and sank the putts so I’m very happy with it.
“For me, to shoot three-under in the conditions was incredible. If I play the way I did today, I’ve got a chance but match play is so different to stroke play. I’m excited for it.”
Macnab’s one-over tally was matched by another Swede, Ester Fagersten, who posted a 69 as she seeks to build on four domestic wins this season. The 16-year-old finished eagle-birdie, holing her 80-yard approach to the 17th from the rough.
“It was a nice bonus to hole my second shot on the 17th, it helped a lot,” she said. “I feel great, match play is always fun and I look forward to it.
“I didn’t come here with any expectations as I’ve not played links golf before. It was scary seeing the first few holes along the edge of the water but it’s a challenging, fun course.”
Aine Donegan, 16, from Woodstock GC, leads the Irish challenge after progressing on four-over-par in a tie for seventh.
The cut mark went out to 13-over-par, with the exact top 64 qualifiers progressing without the need for a card countback.
Donegan said, “I made double bogeys on both the 15th and 16th which was disappointing but I made a really good par with a 10 footer on the 17th and thankfully birdied the 18th.
“It’s good to have a few more people around supporting me and I’m used to the wind and the links, even though I hadn’t played Ardglass before.”
The highest-ranked player in the field, Italy’s Alessia Nobilio kept her title hopes alive on five-over after four birdies on the back nine, while Scotland’s Hannah Darling – winner of the inaugural Girls Under-16 Open Championship – qualified on seven-over.
Each match play tie consists of 18 holes, including Saturday’s final, with the qualifiers looking to follow in the footsteps of notable past champions Anna Nordqvist, Suzann Pettersen and new Ricoh Women’s British Open Champion Georgia Hall.