Nikki Garrett, who is playing in her last golf tournament of the year

Australian Nikki Garrett, England’s Liz Young and Noora Tamminen from Finland shot three under par 69s in perfect warm and sunny conditions at Orient Golf Club on Friday morning to share the early clubhouse lead at the Xiamen Open in China.

All three players said that putting well on the fast and undulating greens was the key to their low scoring.

Young, who had five birdies and two bogeys, said: “I didn’t have a three putt, so that was good on these greens because they are very quick downhill. My good shots were close enough for tap in birdies. I had two bogeys and five birdies and I only holed one long putt so four tap in birdies. I was striking the ball better last week but I putted well which is crucial on this course.”

“They are subtle breaks, subtle breaks towards the water and you’ve got the grain as well. You have to make sure you read the grain right. It’s a challenge.

“You have to give yourself an uphill putt because if you are four feet above the hole you can’t get aggressive on it, you have to tap it and it could wander off line because you haven’t got much speed on it. You have to be below the hole on every hole.”

Garrett also had five birdies and two bogeys. She said: “It was an early start which was good and it wasn’t the prettiest three under but I putted well and had 25 putts, so I only hit 10 greens and it was a different 69.

“There are a few holes out there where if you hit the ball in the wrong place then it’s really difficult but if you’re in the right position it’s not too bad.”

Tamminen added: “I’m really happy to finish my round well because I started bogey, bogey and then on the par-3 third, I hit into the bunker and though, what are you doing, but I made a par and was two over after seven but then I started to make some birdies.

“I was plus two after seven holes but then I saw my friend Minea’s name on the leaderboard at four under and I got so much energy from that and after that I made a lot of birdies. Then I had a birdie on eight and nine and added three more on 12, 13 and 16.”

Minea Blomqvist, Chloe Leurquin and Alexandra Vilatte were all in the clubhouse on two under par after the morning session, with last week’s Sanya Ladies Open winner Xi Yu Lin one of the players a stroke further behind on one under par.

Lin said: “Today my putting was not very good for the whole round and all the birdie putts were inside two yards. I missed some nine to 15 feet putts. My irons didn’t feel too good but my chipping was fine and saved me lots of pars.

“I had a big mistake on 18 and I made a double but I bounced back. My drive went to the left, just behind a big tree and I had room to go over it but in front of the green is all bunkers. I should have chipped out and gone to the green but I went for the green and it took a bad kick and ended on the fringe of a bunker. The next chip was a chip to the edge of another bunker and then I had a chip and two putts.”

Charley Hull opened with a 73, after a difficult start. She snap hooked her tee shot off the 10th resulting in a double bogey and didn’t hit a fairway on her front nine, which was the back nine. After two more bogeys on the second and third holes she was four over with six holes to play but birdied six, eight and nine to get back to one over par.

Meanwhile, Beth Allen of the United States led on five under par after 12 holes with Australian Stephanie Na on four under par after eight holes.

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