Royal Portrush teen Marina Joyce-Moreno proud to mix it with the professionals and wow crowd at Irish Open

Royal Portrush teen Marina Joyce-Moreno may have missed the cut at the KPMG Women’s Irish Open, but it’s likely she’ll never forget her first experience at a professional tournament.

As well as playing alongside some of the best the game has to offer at Dromoland Castle, the 16-year-old made headlines on Thursday with a stunning hole-in-one that drove the home fans mad.

Joyce-Moreno – who hails from Spain but has a Northern Irish father – would go on shooting rounds of 74 and 76 to miss the cut at six over par, but it’s a sign that incredibly bright things are to come, and they are She can’t hold back her smile as she thinks about a week that will be very close to her heart.

“It was an incredible experience,” beamed Joyce-Moreno, who played alongside Norway’s Madelene Stavnar and Germany’s Sophie Witt, speaking to Off The Ball.

“Yesterday was incredible, it was my first hole-in-one in such a big tournament. Today I was riding really well up to 16 but then I got a little nervous and I hit it in the water at 17 so I finished with a double bogey. Not my best finish but still happy.

“It was great playing with the pros and when I got the hole in one everyone was wild so it was amazing!”

Given her background, Joyce-Moreno could have chosen to represent either Spain or Ireland, but chose her father’s country of birth and her choice seems to have already paid off, having represented her at the European Girls’ Championship that year.

“I could choose between Spain or Ireland, but I chose Ireland and it was a very good decision,” she added.

“I’ve been coming since this year, often in the summer, and so far it’s been really good. I played a lot this summer and it was amazing.”

There should be no shock amateurs making the cut in Co Clare, as Knock’s Katie Poots and Clandeboye’s Rebekah Gardner both finished on nine over par, while pro Victoria Craig finished on 10 over par.

Ulster Stroke Play champion Aideen Walsh almost made it into the weekend when one over 73 left her level par for the tournament, but unfortunately the cut line fell to one under meaning the Lahinch women are also out of play becomes.

That leaves the star attraction Leona Maguire, who alone flies the flag in the last two rounds, although she will be hoping she has more up her sleeve after a disappointing three-over-75 win on day two dropped her to two-under par overall has, 10 strokes detached from leader Moa Folke of Sweden.

The Cavan native declined to speak to the media after her second round, which included five bogeys and just two birdies.

Folke – who posted a career-best 10-under 62 on day two – has a two-shot lead at half-time over Smilla Tarning Soenderby, Carmen Alonso and Klara Spilkova at 12-under par. Royal Portrush teen Marina Joyce-Moreno proud to mix it with the professionals and wow crowd at Irish Open

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