Sophie Giquel-Bettan from France fired a first round six under par 66 to take a one shot lead at the ISPS HANDA Ladies European Masters on Thursday.
The 32-year-old from Valence ended the day ahead of South African Ashleigh Simon, Josephine Janson of Sweden and Nontaya Srisawang from Thailand.
English pair Charley Hull and Trish Johnson are part of a large group two strokes off the pace, on four under par.
“It was a great day,” said Giquel-Bettan, after picking up four birdies on the back nine followed by a bogey and three more birdies on the front nine at Buckinghamshire Golf Club.
“Yesterday I played the Pro-Am and it was 36 degrees. It was so hot and this morning it was 20, 22C with just a little breeze, so perfect conditions.”
Simon, the joint runner-up behind Karrie Webb in 2013, had an eagle, four birdies and a bogey in her 67. She said: “I got off to a nice steady start and birdied my third hole of the day. I eagled the par 5 14th after I holed a nice bomb from the back of the green and gave myself some nice chances coming in and birdied 17 and made a good par on 18. All of the par fives are pretty much reachable so if you play those well you can be four under. It was a steady start.”
Srisawang was another player who took advantage of the situation to hit 17 greens and make six birdies. She said: “The condition of the course is really dry and we can get distance on the tee shot so you can hit onto the greens with short irons and if you make a putt then you will make a good score. The conditions today were not really hard, not really windy.”
Like Srisawang, Hull played in the afternoon and was content with making five birdies and one bogey. After her round, the 19-year-old Solheim Cup winner said: “I’m happy because I putted pretty well today. I just kept coming up short with my irons. I struck it well but kept miss-clubbing myself. I feel like I’m so used to my American distances that now when I’m in a tournament I keep thinking I’m going to hit them a bit further but I don’t. Although I’ve been in England for two weeks we’ve just been mucking around with my friends, so I’ve hit some massive fades, but I’m pretty happy with the way I’m playing.”
Johnson was also delighted with her round following a disappointing run of results this season due to a persistent back injury and feels that she has turned a corner.
Last year’s Scottish Open champion said: “I had a lesson a couple of days ago with Stuart Brewer, the father of Ben Brewer, who caddied for me in Holland. There was some stuff that I really needed help with.”
Fellow Britons Melissa Reid and Dame Laura Davies had one under par rounds of 71 to lie in a share of 37th place, a stroke ahead of Amy Boulden, the 2014 rookie of the year.