Maria Hjorth produced a highly impressive 5-under-par 67 Friday to take a one-shot lead over England's Melissa Reid after the first round of the AIB Ladies Irish Open at Killeen Castle. The Ladies European Tour event is significant because it’s being played on the course that will host the 2011 Solheim Cup.
Starting at the 10th, the Swede had a superb start when she eagled the par-5 12th, birdied the 13th, bogeyed the 14th and birdied holes 17 and 18 to reach the turn in 32. The 36-year-old then recorded her fourth birdie at the third before hitting a bogey and finishing with a birdie on the par-4 ninth.
"You can have a lot of birdie chances and you can take advantage of being a longer hitter,” she said. "I really enjoy coming here and it's great to be here at Killeen Castle as well and try out the course for the Solheim Cup, which I'll hopefully be back for next year."
Reid was a stroke back on 68 after a round comprising an eagle and six birdies as well as two bogeys and a double bogey.
"All in all a pretty good day, and I'd probably have taken 68 if you'd have given me that on the first tee," she said
Scotland's Carly Booth, 18, in her rookie season on the Ladies European Tour, had a career-best round of 69 and was at 3 under alongside world No. 10 In Kyung Kim of South Korea, Denmark's Iben Tinning and Kristy McPherson of the United States.
One shot further back were England's Georgina Simpson and Becky Brewerton of Wales in a six-way tie for 10th.
Among the other Americans in the field along with McPherson are Angela Stanford and Brittany Lincicome (71); Christina Kim (72); Mollie Fankhauser, Brittany Lang and Mallory Blackwelder (73); Beth Allen and Alison Walshe (75); and Diana D'Alessio (76).
And among other LPGA Tour regulars with hopes of making the European Solheim Cup team are Sophie Gustafson (70); Carin Koch (71); Suzann Pettersen (74); Catriona Matthew and Helen Alfredsson (75); and Laura Davies (76).