World No.2 Minjee Lee took the opening day honours in the British Open super group and is well placed to not only emulate compatriot Cameron Smith but also seize the No.1 ranking.
Lee recovered from a flat start and made three crucial birdies in the last seven holes to finish three shots off the lead as she chases her second major of the year.
Playing with world No.1 Jin Young Ko and No.3 Nelly Korda, Lee was one over par after six holes but turned for home at even par after a birdie on the seventh at Muirfield in Scotland and then began her climb up the leaderboard.
Lee finished the opening day three shots behind former champion Hinako Shibuno in the $10m event and will be back in action on Friday afternoon Australian time with an early second-round tee time for the Open super group.
“I made really quite a few good up-and-downs on the back nine,” Lee said.
“And to be three under the back nine I think is quite good considering how 14 and 15 play really tough.
“The wind got up – it was pretty similar to yesterday when I played in the pro-am – so I think I got a little used to the conditions while I was out there yesterday
“But I feel like I was quite committed on every shot that I hit because it was so windy, and I just think I did that really well today.”
Korda finished two shots back from Lee after opening with a one-under 70, while Ko struggled to five-over after shooting 76.
Steph Kyriacou is the best of the other Australians in the field with a one-under 70, placing her equal 13th.
Hannah Green posted an even-par 71 and Whitney Hillier a one-over 72, but Su-Hyun Oh never recovered from dropping three shots on the opening two holes, finishing with a 77.