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Irish amateur Aine Donegan arrived at Pebble Beach facing every golfer’s worst nightmare – but she is now right in contention in her first ever major tournament.
The 21-year-old from County Clare fired a three-under opening round 69 to trail by one at the US Women’s Open alongside fellow Irishwoman Leona Maguire.
That is despite Donegan’s clubs turning up late in California and her driver being smashed into pieces in transit.
She pitched up at Pebble Beach after representing Great Britain and Ireland in a match against continental Europe in the Vagliano Trophy at Royal Dornoch in Scotland last weekend.
But her clubs did not arrive until Tuesday, with Donegan’s club manufacturers scrambling to provide her with a new set as she took to the course for her practice rounds.
And when the set did eventually turn up, Donegan’s driver was snapped into two so she was forced to play with a replacement.
— U.S. Women's Open (USGA) (@uswomensopen) July 6, 2023
Donegan feels the near-disaster with her clubs ultimately proved a blessing ahead of her impressive opening round.
“It’s like everything happens for a reason, the clubs were late and then the driver came and it was broken,” she said. “All of a sudden I have no choice but to put this Ping driver in.
“Honestly I am delighted I did. The whole thing has been a bit surreal to be honest – nearly every five minutes it’s like a pinch-me moment.”
She had started with two bogeys but recovered well and is now placed among six players in a tie for second behind first round leaders Xiyu Lin of China and Hyo Hoo Kim of South Korea.
“It wouldn’t be the first time I started bogey-bogey,” Donegan added. “For me to come back then and finish how I finished and play the rest of the round, I’m really proud of myself for that.”
Elsewhere, England’s Jodi Ewart Shadoff is in the mix after a solid one-under 71, while Charley Hull and Scot Gemma Dryburgh two shots further back.
The 20-year-old phenomenon Rose Zhang drew huge crowds at Pebble Beach, but carded an opening round 74 and is six shots off the lead.
Click here to see the US Women’s Open first round leaderboard in full.
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