Defending champion Karrie Webb from Australia made a bold attempt to retain her Weetabix Women’s British Open title after an opening round of 67 at Royal Lytham and St Annes GC to share the early first round lead on five under par alongside American Wendy Ward.

Ward – six birdies

The diminutive 22-year-old England International fired five birdies during her round and leads such luminaries as Laura Davies, England’s finest ever female player, who found herself four over par after five holes, but eventually battled hard to post a 75.

“I’m not out of it,” said Davies. “It was a disappointing start. I three putted the third, which was disappointing, then on number five I hit the right side bunker and it was so badly plugged, I couldn’t get it out.

“I know there are people at five under, but you can’t shoot five under every day so I have to have three really good rounds. I’ve been having three good rounds and a bad round, so hopefully this is my bad round out of the way.”