|First-round co-leader Lydia Hall from South Wales
Britons Laura Davies, Henrietta Zuel and Lydia Hall held a three-way share of the lead on six under par 66 after the first round of the ISPS Handa Ladies British Masters.
The trio emerged from a crowded leader board late on Thursday after a beautiful but breezy day at Buckinghamshire Golf Club in Denham to lead by a stroke over South African Stacy Lee Bregman and Australian Stacey Keating.
Frenchwoman Joanna Klatten, Beth Allen of the United States, South African Lee-Anne Pace and Swede Carin Koch were a stroke further behind.
Despite walking around the course in pain with an injured Achilles tendon, 79-time tournament champion Davies showed why she is still England’s leading lady by blending seven birdies with just one dropped shot around the attractive parkland layout, just 20 minutes from London.
The four-time major champion, who didn’t play a practice round this week, commented: “It’s a lovely golf course; I knew I liked it. Seven birdies, one bogey: a very satisfactory day.”
Davies, from nearby Surrey, has just returned from the United States, where she tied for 31st at the Toledo Classic, a week after finishing third in Ireland.
“I played very well in Toledo without making any putts and the today I played well, hit 17 greens and putted well, so that’s the way you shoot 66s,” she added. “You don’t do that unless you putt well and I did putt well today.”
England’s Zuel, from Bath, also mixed seven birdies with one bogey and was delighted to be in the hunt for her maiden Ladies European Tour title.
She said: “I love these greens. I think on these greens, if you roll it on a line it will stay there so if you are reading them right then it is pretty score-able. It was just pretty solid really. I started rolling a few putts in, wasn’t hitting it that great at the start and then adrenaline, a bit of good scoring, just brought it all together and it progressed from there.”
Welshwoman Hall, from Bridgend, also carded seven birdies and one bogey and credited her new caddie, Lee Griffiths, for a confident performance.
“These greens are so big, you just have to have the right club in your hand and obviously Lee Griffiths, an experienced caddie, is working for me this week and that has been a huge help, putting the right club in my hand, then I can be aggressive and just trust that,” she said.
“The par fives: the greens are large, some are 46, 42, deep, so you’ve got to be hitting them pretty close to give yourself chances. Each par five for me is reachable with a rescue and 17, the par four: I can drive that hole as well, so it’s taking advantage of the holes where you can be aggressive and then being disciplined on the holes where you can be happy with par.”
While Pace and Koch set the early target at four under, England’s Melissa Reid, Trish Johnson and Kiran Matharu were in a group on three under, along with South Africans Tandi Cuningham and Ashleigh Simon, Frenchwoman Gwladys Nocera and Adriana Zwanck from Spain.
Those on two under include the talented 16-year-old English amateur Charley Hull, with current European order of merit leader Carly Booth of Scotland a shot back on one under.
The tournament continues on Friday and will conclude with Saturday’s final round.
ISPS Handa Ladies British Masters
Buckinghamshire Golf Club
16-18 August 2012
Scores at the end of Round 1:
66 - Laura Davies (ENG) , Henrietta Zuel (ENG) , Lydia Hall (WAL)
67 - Stacey Keating (AUS) , Stacy Lee Bregman (ZAF)
68 - Joanna Klatten (FRA) , Beth Allen (USA) , Lee-Anne Pace (ZAF) , Carin Koch (SWE)
69 - Tandi Cuningham (ZAF) , Gwladys Nocera (FRA) , Ashleigh Simon (ZAF) , Melissa Reid (ENG) , Trish Johnson (ENG) , Adriana Zwanck (ESP) , Kiran Matharu (ENG)
70 - Dawn Shockley (USA) , Kirsty S Taylor (ENG) , Diana Luna (ITA) , Holly Aitchison (ENG) , Charley Hull (ENG) , Carlota Ciganda (ESP) , Nontaya Srisawang (THA) , Rebecca Codd (IRL) , Caroline Afonso (FRA) , Klara Spilkova (CZE) , Sophie Sandolo (ITA) , Julie Greciet (FRA)
71 - Mikaela Parmlid (SWE) , Rebecca Artis (AUS) , Steffi Kirchmayr (DEU) , Lisa Holm Sorensen (DNK) , Marjet Van Der Graaff (NLD) , Tania Elosegui (ESP) , Kylie Walker (SCO) , Carly Booth (SCO) , Hannah Burke (ENG) , Kyra Van Leeuwen (NLD)
72 - Frances Bondad (AUS) , Malene Jorgensen (DNK) , Louise Larsson (SWE) , Stefanie Michl (AUT) , Rachel Bailey (AUS) , Connie Chen (ZAF) , Elizabeth Bennett (ENG) , Esther Choe (USA) , Cassandra Kirkland (FRA) , Laurette Maritz (ZAF) , Lucie Andre (FRA) , Sophie Giquel-bettan (FRA) , Caroline Martens (NOR)
73 - Karen Lunn (AUS) , Danielle Montgomery (ENG) , Liebelei Lawrence (LUX) , Clare Queen (SCO) , Caroline Westrup (SWE) , Lynn Kenny (SCO) , Alison Whitaker (AUS) , Sophie Walker (ENG) , Barbara Genuini (FRA) , Bree Arthur (AUS)
74 - Jenni Kuosa (FIN) , Ursula Wikstrom (FIN) , Stephanie Na (AUS) , Piyathida Ployumsri (THA) , Elisabeth Esterl (DEU) , Sara Wikstrom (SWE) , Eleanor Givens (ENG) , Xi Yu Lin (CHN) , Sahra Hassan (WAL) , Anja Monke (DEU) , Elena Giraud (FRA) , Sharmila Nicollet (IND) , Veronica Zorzi (ITA) , Lynnette Brooky (NZL) , Jade Schaeffer (FRA) , Mireia Prat (ESP)
75 - Elin Emanuelsson (SWE) , Rachel Jennings (ENG) , Anais Maggetti (CHE) , Linda Wessberg (SWE) , Marieke Nivard (NLD) , Maria Beautell (ESP) , Claire Aitken (ENG) , Charlotte Ellis (ENG) , Lucy Williams (ENG) , Stefania Croce (ITA) , Holly Clyburn (ENG) , Rebecca Hudson (ENG)
76 - Zuzana Kamasova (SVK) , Marianne Skarpnord (NOR) , Miriam Nagl (DEU) , Alexandra Vilatte (FRA) , Kym Larratt (ENG) , Nikki Garrett (AUS) , Maria Ohlsson (SWE) , Anne-Lise Caudal (FRA) , Felicity Johnson (ENG) , Sara Djos (SWE) , Florentyna Parker (ENG) , Celine Palomar (FRA) , Amy Boulden (WAL) , Sofia Harkonen (FIN) , Julie Maisongrosse (FRA)
77 - Titiya Plucksataporn (THA) , Rachel Drummond (ENG) , Jessica Yadloczky (USA) , Yu Yang Zhang (CHN)
78 - Rachel Bell (ENG) , Laura Cabanillas (ESP) , Mary Mattson (USA) , Charlie Douglass (ENG) , Carmen Alonso (ESP) , Caroline Rominger (CHE) , Margherita Rigon (ITA) , Becky Brewerton (WAL)
79 - Virginie Lagoutte-clement (FRA) , Suzanne Dickens (ENG) , Vikki Laing (SCO) , Melodie Bourdy (FRA)
80 - Monique Smit (ZAF) , Georgina Simpson (ENG) , Mianne Bagger (DNK)
81 - Chrisje De Vries (NLD) , Xin Ying Wang (CHN)
82 - Tara Dayer-Smith (ENG)
83 - Danielle McVeigh (IRL)