DUBLIN, IRELAND (Friday 26th June 2009) – Sweden’s Maria Hjorth and Julie Greciet from France shared the first round lead with five-under-par 67s at the AIB Ladies Irish Open supported by Fáilte Ireland on Friday.
Both players carded eight birdies and three bogeys in near perfect conditions at Portmarnock Links near Dublin.
Trailing by one shot on four-under were six players including Scotland’s Vikki Laing, a Ladies European Tour rookie, who holed-in-one at the 164-yard third hole.
Also on 68 were Frenchwoman Gwladys Nocera, five times a winner on the Ladies European Tour last season and the 2007 Ladies English Open champion, Becky Brewerton, from Wales.
They were joined by the 2004 Tenerife Open winner Diana Luna from Italy, three-time tournament champion Martina Eberl from Germany and England’s Melissa Reid, yet to earn her maiden pro victory.
Hjorth, a five-time tournament winner, returned to Europe from playing in the USA for the first time since having her daughter, Emily, five months ago.
Hjorth’s new bag man is Mark Britton as her husband, Shaun McBride, has replaced caddie duties with full time child minding.
" I’ve been feeling that my form has been coming around, I’ve been starting to play a lot better, so it’s nice when I finally get a good score out there, " said the 35-year-old three-time Solheim Cup player.
" I had a lot of good shots and my putting was really good today, of course that’s where everything comes down. I made some really good birdie putts, so that’s really what I felt was very good today. "
Hjorth was joined by the little known second year tour player, 22-year-old Greciet from Biarritz, who previously led after the first round of last year’s Tenerife Ladies Open, only to finish in equal 21st position.
At last year’s AIB Ladies Irish Open, Greciet missed the cut by two, whereas Hjorth finished tied for seventh place. Greciet was delighted to be leading. " I had a very, very good putt. I’m lucky, " she said.
The biggest galleries of the day followed the magnificent 14-year-old Maguire twins, from Cavan in Ireland. Leona shot a 74 in the morning, finishing one shot better than her playing partner, Laura Davies of England, a 72-time tournament winner.
Lisa played with the long hitting Hjorth in the afternoon and shot a 76, dropping three shots in total over the back nine as light rain set in.
There was a strong Irish showing with two Irish professionals in contention: Martina Gillen and Tara Delaney.
Gillen shot a three-under 69 to share ninth place with Lydia Hall from Wales, while first year player Delaney was a shot further back on 70 with nine others.