England’s Georgia Hall carded a flawless opening 67 to lie two shots off the pace after the first round of the Ricoh Women’s British Open.
Hall fired five birdies and no bogeys at Royal Lytham and St Annes Golf Club to share third place behind in-form Australian Minjee Lee, who carded an eagle, six birdies and a solitary bogey in her 65.
“I’m really happy to have no bogeys on any golf course but on this course I’m extremely happy,” Hall told Sky Sports.
“I holed some really good par putts towards the last few holes and to get five birdies I couldn’t ask for more really on the first round.”
Hall finished third in this event at Kingsbarns last year and believes she is better equipped to challenge for a first major title this time around.
“A lot has happened since a year ago,” the 22-year-old added.
“I played Solheim Cup a couple of weeks after the British Open last year and I think I’m more of an experienced player, a bit more mature and I think I handle myself quite well.
“I think as long as I handle myself well on the golf course I’m happy and hopefully I can do that tomorrow as well.”
Lee, who enjoyed a one-shot lead over Japan’s Mamiko Higa, finished second in last week’s Scottish Open at Gullane and said: “I know I can play around a links course and handle those conditions so I’m in a good place.
“I did hole quite a lot of putts from just inside 30 feet today, I don’t think I holed any that were really short. I’ve been hitting it pretty solid and really happy with where I am right now.”
England’s Florentyna Parker carded an adventurous 69 which included a hole-in-one on the ninth, six birdies, three bogeys and a double bogey, while compatriot Charley Hull recovered from dropping three shots in her first five holes to card an opening 71.
Former US Women’s Open champion Michelle Wie was forced to withdraw after 12 holes of her opening round with an ongoing hand injury.
In a statement on social media, the 28-year-old American said: “I have been doing everything humanly possible (besides giving it proper rest) this past couple of weeks to get my hand healthy enough to play this event.
“Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough.
“I gave it my all today but I just couldn’t handle the pain any longer. I’m devastated that I had to withdraw mid-round, but I felt that if I kept pushing through the pain, I would have injured my hand further.”