A year on from her history-making New South Wales Open win, Kiwi Lydia Ko opened her title defence in typically solid fashion in Sydney yesterday.
The 15-year-old, ranked No 1 amateur in the world, carded a five-under-par opening round of 67 to sit one shot off the pace at Oatlands Golf Club.
Ko's bogey-free opening round saw her tucked behind four co-leaders, Australians Bree Arthur, Stacey Keating and Minjee Lee and Swede Caroline Hedwall, the 2011 champion. Veteran English golfer Laura Davies was one shot behind Ko after carding a 68.
Ko eagled the sixth and then added birdies on seven and nine to make the turn in four-under. She added a further birdie on the par-five 13th to be firmly in contention in the three-round ALPG event.
When Ko triumphed last year as a 14-year-old she produced a bogey-free round of three-under 69 to win by four strokes and become the youngest winner of a professional tournament, beating Japanese star Ryo Ishikawa's mark of winning at 15 years, 8 months.
Meanwhile, in Doha, fellow Kiwi Michael Campbell put himself in contention for a first victory since 2005.
Campbell, 43, was one shot off the lead at the halfway point of the European Tour's Qatar Masters after recording back-to-back rounds of 68.
Campbell, who finished in a share of 17th at the Abu Dhabi Championship last week, was in a five-way share of fifth.
Campbell made four birdies on his front nine and came home with nine straight pars to be one back from leaders Sergio Garcia, Martin Kaymer, Marcus Fraser and Ricardo Santos who were nine-under.
The eight-time winner on the European Tour has been on a steady comeback since the middle of last year's season, when he recorded a third placing in Portugal and a tie for eighth in Hong Kong.
He is currently in a share of 59th place in the early stages of the Race to Dubai standings.
- © Fairfax NZ News