Yani Tseng and Katherine Hull opened with four under par rounds of 68 to share the opening day lead at the Ricoh Women’s British Open.
The pair led by one shot from Anne-Lise Caudal, Amy Yang, Brittany Lincicome and Sun Young Yoo.
Double Major Champion Tseng, 21, from Taiwan hit all 18 greens on her way to a bogey-free opening round at Royal Birkdale Golf Club in Southport, England.
She birdied the par-five sixth to reach the turn in 34, before picking up another shot at the par-five 17th. She then holed an eagle putt from 12 yards at the par-five 18th for an inward nine of 34.
“I played really solid today,” said Tseng, whose Major triumphs are the 2008 McDonalds LPGA Championship presented by Coca Cola and the 2010 Kraft Nabisco Championship and who also won the Handa Women’s Australian Open in March.
The World No.5 added: “I hit 18 greens on this golf course, so I didn’t miss any greens. I putted well. I feel good that I made the birdie, eagle to finish like the last two holes. The last two holes for me is very reachable. It was par holes for me. Feel okay, relaxed.”
Hull, the 2009 ANZ Ladies Masters champion, dropped a shot at the par-three fourth hole but picked up shots at the seventh and ninth for an outward nine of 34. She moved within two of the leader with a birdie at the 10th and then eagled the 18th at around 8pm.
A shot back, Caudal, the 2008 Portugal Ladies Open champion from France, started with a bogey at the par-four first, playing as the most difficult hole with only two birdies on it all day.
Her round sparkled into life as she birdied the fifth and sixth holes, before adding a third birdie at the 11th and a fourth at the par-five 18th, playing as the easiest on the course.
Caudal finished third in her last start on the LET at the Tenerife Ladies Open a month ago and kept her momentum going on a blowy afternoon.
The 26-year-old from Ciboure in the Basque Country revealed that she loves links golf as well as rugby and handball.
“I really enjoy the play and on the Links golf course,” Caudal said. “I like very much this course. I’m really confident, so I know I can do it.”
Yang was also off to a flying start. The South Korean, who turned 21 on the eve of the championship, bogeyed the tough, par-four second hole, before picking up three shots in a row from the fourth for an outward total of 33. Yang closed with a birdie on the final hole for an inward total of 36 to join Caudal as the co-leader.
Yang is no stranger to low scoring having shot 63 twice on the Ladies European Tour, where she has won three titles and holds the record as the Tour’s youngest ever winner having secured the 2006 ANZ Ladies Masters at Royal Pines in Australia as an amateur aged 16 years and 191 days.
Shortly after her victory, Yang joined the paid ranks aged 17 and went on to win the 2008 HypoVereinsbank Ladies German Open, presented by Audi and the Scandinavian TPC hosted by Annika.
She finished second behind Karen Stupples at last year’s S4C Wales Ladies Championship at Royal St David’s and like Caudal, she said that she loved links golf: “I really like it. It’s windy and raining hard, but I like it.”
Lincicome, a three-time winner on the LPGA Tour, opened with a double bogey followed by a bogey, but after three straight pars she completed an outward nine of 35 with three consecutive birdies from the sixth. The birdie blitz continued on holes 13, 14 and 18 for an inward nine of 34.
South Korean Yoo, who won the 2010 Sybase Match Play Championship on the LPGA, was out in 35 and back in 34.
A shot further back, with completed two under par rounds, are American Michelle Wie, who finished with a birdie at the 17th and eagled the 18th and South Korean In Kyung Kim, the 2009 Omega Dubai Ladies Masters champion. Wie won the Smyth Salver as the leading amateur at Royal Birkdale in 2005, when she tied for third place, six strokes behind the winner, Jeong Jang.
The newly crowned world No.1 Jiyai Shin of South Korea, Frenchwoman Gwladys Nocera, South African Stacy Lee Bregman and Americans Juli Inkster, Brittany Lang, Stacy Lewis and Stacy Prammanasudh are all on 71.
England’s Laura Davies, the leader of the LET’s Henderson Money List after two wins this season in New Zealand and Germany, was among the notable early starters and she opened with a round of 72 in blustery conditions. Swedes Anna Nordqvist and Carin Koch, Scotland’s Janice Moodie and leading qualifier Lynnette Brooky of New Zealand also opened with rounds of 72.
Finishing at around 11.48am, Davies had 24 hours to go before her round two tee time and revealed that she might visit the Liverpool FC shop at Anfield.
Australian Karrie Webb had a strange round in the morning. She had a fantastic outward nine of 32 including four birdies and one bogey but came back in 41 for a round of 73 while the 2009 champion Catriona Matthew opened with a round of 75.