Maguires turn on the style for home fans
IF all politics is local, then ditto for golf as the galleries attending the €400,000 Ladies Irish Open at Killeen Castle flocked to watch the 16-year-old Maguire twins, Lisa and Leona, in action.
All around the expansive tree-lined acreage of the Jack Nicklaus-designed course, top players, including the legendary Laura Davies, world No 3 Suzann Pettersen, and the leading money winners of the 2011 season, were plying their trade.
Many fine golfers were in the field, all talented and capable of producing lots of birdies, as was proven by Ann-Lise Caudal of France, whose six-under-par mid-day 66 held up as the best score until late evening.
By then, the crowds had flocked to see Leona recover from five-over-par to shooting four birdies in eight holes, including three-in-a-row on her last three holes, for a one-over-par 73.
And Lisa drew big galleries in the afternoon show, getting into red numbers with a one-under-par 71.
Lisa was the leading home player, although Galway-born Alison Walshe zoomed up the leaderboard, shooting a six-under-66 to hold the joint lead with Caudal.
However, Walshe (26), whose family moved to the USA when she was very young, considers herself American in every way, although she has plenty of relatives in Ireland, including her uncle George Munnelly, who played in the 1980 FAI Cup final for St Patrick's Athletic.
At one stage she was asked to declare for Europe with a view to bringing an Irish interest to the Solheim Cup team.
She even got a €20,000 grant from the Irish Sports Council, but when push came to shove, Walshe, who played in the 2008 Curtis Cup for the USA, returned the money and settled for playing her golf under the American flag.
An attendance of 5,000 saw some excellent golf played in almost ideal conditions. The addition of the teenage Maguire twins and invitee Lexi Thompson, also 16, from the USA added a youthful zest to the tournament.
European Amateur individual champion Lisa enjoyed her round, despite a slip on the par-four 17th, which she bogeyed after being bunkered with her approach shot.
She smiled ruefully as she said: "I shouldn't have been hitting at that flag in the first place, so I probably got what I deserved there.
"It wasn't my caddie's (Colin Byrne) fault. He wanted me to hit it left of the flag, so I have to take the blame for that one. It was enjoyable. It's not a bad start and, hopefully, tomorrow will be just as good."
Apart from the Maguires, the rest of the home players have plenty of work to do if they are to be among the top 60 and ties who qualify for tomorrow's final round.
Rebecca Codd shot 74; Tara Delaney and Martina Gillen each had 76; debutante professional Danielle McVeigh had 78 and Hazel Kavanagh was on 85.
The top end of the leaderboard was pretty crowded behind leaders Walshe and Caudal.
Maria Hjorth (Sweden), Lee-Ann Pace of South Africa and Azahara Munoz Guijarro (Spain) each shot 67 to be one shot off the lead, while a group of 10 players, including Davies, returned a four-under-par 68.
Thompson, who played alongside Leona Maguire and will do so again today, was satisfied with her opening 71.
TODAY'S second round DRAW
1st tee -- 8.0 J Sweeney, S Brown, S Michl; 8.10 L Vedel, C Kirkland, S Walker; 8.20 G Simpson, M Fankhauser, N Garrett; 8.30 V Zorzi, H Aitchison, T Davies; 8.40 A Monke, G Sergas, J Schaeffer; 8.50 R Hudson, L Wahlin, N Gergely; 9.0 L Hall, F Johnson, E Zackrisson; 9.10 T Elosegui, C Afonso, M Bjornqvist; 9.20 A Walshe, S Croce, J Lee; 9.30 H Kavanagh, A Larraneta, L B Lawrence; 9.40 R Hakkarainen, C Hallstrom, A Zwanck.
12.30 L Cabanillas, J Kuosa, C Douglass; 12.40 V Laing, K Spikova, L Brooky; 12.50 T Delaney, B Allen, R Jennings; 1.0 M Reid, K Stupples, S Gal; 1.10 L Davies, C Masson, V Hurst; 1.20 R Codd, LA Pace, B Recari; 1.30 Leona Maguire (am), A Thompson, S Lewis; 1.40 M Skarpnord, F Parker, G Nocera; 1.50 L Hall, SL Bregman, B Arthur; 2.0 H Zuel, K Welch, S Sandoloa.
10th tee --8.0 L Fairclough, E Esterl, L Andre; 8.10 K Walker, R Flood, D Montgomery; 8.20 S Pettersen, C Kim, D Luna; 8.30 C Boeljon, M Hjorth, A Nordqvist; 8.40 C Hedwall, S Gustafson, C Matthew; 8.50 Lisa Maguire (am), A Munoz Guijarro, B Brewerton; 9.0 K Smith, T Johnson, V Lagoutte-Clement; 9.10 D McVeigh, A Simon, Z Kamasova; 9.20 E Bennett, L Stahle, L Holm Sorensen; 9.30 T Plucksataporn, J Maisongrosse, M Rigon; 9.40 J Klatten, L Kenny, K Ruuttila.
12.30 M Bourdy, L Maritz, B Toumpsin; 12.40 E Cabrera-Bello, C Westrup, T Cunningham; 12.50 L Larsson, C Rominger, C Queen; 1.0 S Giquel-Bettan, L Wessberg, D C Schreefel; 1.10 A-L Caudal, S Kemp, C Koch; 1.20 M Gillen, S Keating, B Morgan; 1.30 B Mozo, K Matharu, J Granada; 1.40 K Lunn, M Jorgensen, P Lindberg; 1.50 D D'Alessio, U Wikstrom, F Bondad; 2.0 D Bordner, M Robbertze, R Bell.