Catriona Matthew makes steady start in Singapore

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CATRIONA Matthew recovered from a shaky start to card a two-under-par 70 in tthe opening round of the HSBC Women’s Champions in Singapore.

It earned the North Berwick woman a share of 20th spot as Spain’s Azahara Munoz set the pace at Sentosa Golf Club with a seven-under-par 65.

Matthew, who has started her season with a brace of top-15 finishes in Australia and Thailand over the past fortnight, was two-over after six but rallied to pick up four birdies in her final eight holes.

“Australia, Thailand and now Singapore, almost at 25,000 miles and it’s only February,” tweeted Matthew, who is aiming to secure a seventh Solheim Cup appearance later this year, on the eve of the tournament.

Munoz, a 25-year-old from Malaga, collected seven birdies in a superb bogey-free round on the Serapong Course to open up an early two-shot lead at the head of an impressive field. She said: “I played pretty good. I hit a lot of fairways. When I didn’t, I still hit the greens.

“I feel the key today was I hit a lot of really good second shots so I gave myself a lot of opportunities, and then obviously I converted a lot of them.”

Five players were tied for second spot – American duo Lizette Salas and Stacy Lewis, Sweden’s Karin Sjodin, Thailand’s Pornanong Phatlum and South Korea’s Sun-Young Yoo.

Jodi Ewart Shadoff of England was one of nine players in joint 11th place after she went round in 69.

However, defending champion Angela Stanford of the United States struggled to a four-over 76 which included an eight at the par-4 13th hole.