(Lisbon, May 23 2003) England’s Kirsty Taylor equalled the lowest round of her career to lead after the first round of the €165,000 Lancia Ladies Open of Portugal at Aroeira GC on the Costa de Caparica.

Larraneta – an easy day!

“It was pretty difficult out there at times as the wind was tricky to gauge, but I’m very happy with the way I struck the ball today,” said Taylor, runner up at the 2000 Weetabix Women’s British Open and owner of 20 top ten finishes in her nine year career.

“I was knocking the flags out all day long and holing the putts too, so it was very pleasant.”

Like Taylor, Larrañeta has yet to savour victory on the Ladies European Tour, but gave herself every chance with a faultless 68. An unlikely birdie from the trees at the first hole opened her account and two more followed on her front nine at the fourth and eighth.

The 30-year-old from Pamplona had to wait until the 15th for her next red figure and admitted to having an easy day of it on the course.

“It was an easy day for me really, I knocked it close, made the putts and had some fun out there,” said Larrañeta, whose best finish in a five year career was runner up behind Laura Davies at last years P4 Norwegian Masters.

“It’s a similar course to my home club, so it suits me. I finished ninth her last year and I’m playing well so hopefully I can go a few better this year.”

In addition to the first place prize money on Sunday, a diamond ring worth €3400 will be a welcome bonus awaiting the winner. One of those who could save both herself and fiancé Richard a trip to the jewellers is Brooky, who recently announced her marriage intentions and who finished third here last year.

And finally, spare a thought for Australia’s Karen Lunn. While a one over par 73 is not remarkable by today’s scoring conditions at the top of the leaderboard, Lunn, who played alongside Taylor, racked up no less than four penalty shots during her round. The highlight of them all reduced her playing partners to fits of giggles when the amiable Aussie inadvertently knocked her ball at right angles on the green during a practice putting stroke!

“My caddie Neil thought he was working for Rued Van Nistelroy,” quipped Lunn.

“Three penalties in the first half!”