Cristie Kerr shot a bogey-free six-under-par 66 in brutally tough conditions to take a three-stroke lead after the opening morning at the Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open.

The 39-year-old from Miami said afterwards that she relished the mental challenge and was pleased with her control over the golf ball, in a gusty, two-three club wind, at Dundonald Links in Ayrshire.

She said: “It was a tough day. The score added up really well, but it was tough to stand over the shots and be able to execute. It’s never easy here, so I’m very pleased with the score. I hit the ball in the areas I was trying to hit it in and made some putts as well. It was a great day. It’s never easy here and you can never take anything for granted.”

Fellow United States Solheim Cup player Stacy Lewis returned a three-under-par 69, after four birdies and a dropped shot at the seventh hole. The 2013 Ricoh Women’s British Open champion at St Andrews made a great start with three birdies in a row from the 14th on her first nine.

27/07/2017 Ladies European Tour 2017: Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open. Dundonald Links, Ayrshire. Scotland 27-30 July 2017. Stacy Lewis of the USA during the first round. Credit: Tristan Jones.

She said: “It was super hard out there and I’m happy to be done. Playing in the Pro-Am yesterday might have helped me, when there was a ton of rain. There wasn’t as much rain this morning but the wind was tough. Our first nine holes it wasn’t too bad but it got tough on our back nine. I hit a few great shots, a five-iron into a par-3 and a 3-wood into a par-4.”

England’s Georgia Hall, who leads the European Solheim Cup rankings, was among the players who returned scores of 71 and the 21-year-old from Bournemouth said: “I’m happy with that, as it was steady. I woke up at 4.45am and heard the wind and thought, what’s this? It helps when you have 25 putts.”

Carlota CIganda, from Pamplona in Spain, was another European who shot 71. She said: “I was trust trying to make pars and read greens, but I made birdies on my second and third holes. It was tough so I’m very happy with my score.”

There were improving weather conditions for the afternoon wave of players, with a strong breeze and sunny skies moving in.