Globetrotting Brewerton off to flier

SOLHEIM Cup player Becky Brewerton credited an early-season campaign Down Under for her strong start at the first women's major of the year in California.

The Welsh golfer scored an opening-round, four-birdie, one-bogey 69 at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage to leave her in a tie for third place at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, two shots behind Norway's Suzann Pettersen and one back from world No1 Lorena Ochoa of Mexico.

Ladies European Tour member Brewerton, 27, arrived on America's west coast following a globetrotting beginning to her 2010 season and the long hitter said she had benefited from her time south of the Equator.

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"I started off the year in Australia, which is a nice trip. I had one tournament in New Zealand, two in Australia, home for a week and then out here, so I've literally been around the world so far," Brewerton said.

"It's been good. It's a great way to start the year. Those tournaments in Australia are great, and knowing I was going to be coming here, those tournaments were actually ideal preparation for this one."

Brewerton said the par-72, 6,702-yard Dinah Shore Championship Course at Mission Hills was ideally suited to big hitters off the tee.

"I think so. You have to be long in Australia. All the parts of your game get really tested here.

"I don't remember playing any other course where you hit so many 5-irons, 6-irons, 4-irons into greens.

"It's a little bit of a shock, you have to warm up quite a lot before the start of the tournament.

"The front nine was playing a little bit longer because it was still quite cold. It was almost like someone just switched the oven on when we got to the tenth and all of a sudden the ball was going a bit further and running a little bit further, so it was nice to play the back nine a little bit shorter."

Pettersen was bogey free for her opening 67 while Ochoa's 68 featured six birdies and two bogeys.

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Brewerton shares third place with six other women, including LPGA hall of famer Karrie Webb of Australia and England's Karen Stupples, who also carded four birdies and one bogey for her 69.

"It was a very good solid round of golf," Pettersen said. " I could not ask for a better start.

"I had a few good bounces out there but I was feeling very good with my driver, which helps around this place, and making a few putts. Very stress-free golf today."

Defending champion Brittany Lincicome of the USA is in a group a further shot off the pace on two under par that also includes Sweden's Sophie Gustafson and Karine Icher of France.

LPGA stars Cristie Kerr, Pat Hurst, Morgan Pressel and Michelle Wie each opened with a one-under 71 while Scotland's Catriona Matthew and Melissa Reid of England carded one-over-par 73s with Laura Davies posting a 74.