Defending champion Laura Davies opened her title defence with a superb 5-under par 68 as the four-time Major winner made an immediate assault on the field at the Handa Women’s Australian Open at Commonwealth Golf Club.

Davies, who began with a bogey, recovered immediately with a birdie on the 11th hole and birdied both the 16th and 17th holes to move to 2-under as she made the turn.

A birdie on the par 5 second hole moved her to 3-under and she closed with a birdie on the seventh before rolling in a 30 foot putt for birdie on the ninth to complete her round of 68.

“I putted well last week but I did not hole anything. When you have two eight or nine-footers for par and they go straight in the middle, that’s the sort of thing that keeps me going. I had a really short one, a tap-in, on seven,” Davies said.

“I’ve come here in a confident mood, thinking I am one of the players with a chance to win if I play well and putt well – today is a perfect start,” she added.

Australian Rebecca Flood and Victorian amateur Alison Whitaker, who is based at Duke University in South Carolina, are among a handful of players sharing second place at 3-under par.

World Number 28 Australian Lindsey Wright is tied with World Number 1 amateur Alexis Thompson and Austrian Stefanie Michl at 2-under par following rounds of 71.