Sweden’s Pernilla Lindberg

Pernilla Lindberg is the early leader on day one of the Ladies Irish Open supported by Fáilte Ireland at Killeen Castle. 

The Swedish 26-year-old knocked in six birdies and two bogeys to sign for a four under par 68 after playing in cool and breezy conditions this morning.

Lindberg said: “I was very steady and didn’t miss many fairways. I think I missed number one and then hit every fairway. My irons were good. I gave myself chances with short birdie putts and my putting was good too.”

She ended the morning session two strokes ahead of England’s Elizabeth Bennett, Australian Rachel Bailey and Sweden’s Sophie Gustafson, the four-time Irish Open champion.

Four players ended two strokes further back on level par 72 including the defending champion Suzann Pettersen of Norway.

It was a mixed round for Pettersen, who started with a bogey at the fourth but was two under par after 13 holes, before dropping shots on 14 and 16.

She said: “It was playing fairly similar to Solheim. A few loose irons here and there but overall a decent start.

“I was a couple under and missed a green on the par three, didn’t get up and down, and then I three-putted the 16th so overall decent. I wish it could have been a couple better but it’s okay.”

A member of Europe’s victorious Solheim Cup team in September, Pettersen added: “I kept looking for my team mates out there. They weren’t there. It was a bit weird when I finished on nine and to walk from there to the tenth because a year ago it was just packed and everyone was there cheering you on, giving you a high five.”

Fellow Solheim Cup star Gustafson started strongly and was two under at the turn but dropped shots at the 10th and 12th before recovering with birdies on 13 and 15.

Gustafson, who was planning to spend her afternoon fly fishing at Killeen Castle, said: “I’m fairly pleased because the scores don’t seem to be that low but I made some dumb mistakes out there. I bogeyed two of the par fives that were reachable. The conditions weren’t really tough; the wind started blowing a little bit on the last few holes but we didn’t really have much wind in the morning.”

Irish amateur Leona Maguire, playing in a marquee group with Pettersen and Gustafson, was eight over par after six bogeys and a double in her first 14 holes. She steadied the ship with a birdie on 15, but then dropped another shot on 16. Her twin sister was also struggling at four over after nine holes. Tara Delaney was the best of the five Irish competitors on one over after six holes.

Solheim Cup star Laura Davies, having been two under after 15, double bogeyed the 16th and was on level par at the turn. Another English Solheim Cup player, Melissa Reid, retired after eight holes.