NORTH BERWICK’S Catriona Matthew recovered well after hitting two double-bogeys in three holes in the first round of the Kraft Nabisco Championship in California, the first major of the 2014 season.
Starting her opening round at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage at the tenth, the world No 13 took 6s at both the 13th and 15th to quickly find herself four-over.
But she covered her remaining 12 holes - picking up birdies at the 17th, 18th, fourth and seventh - in a splendid four-under-par to sign for a 72.
The round left Matthew tied for 21st, six shots behind the leader, China’s Shanshan Feng. 2012 LPGA Championship winner Feng carded seven birdies in her first round.
Michelle Wie, helped by an eagle on the par-5 11th hole, was alongside Feng at one point before dropping a shot on the 17th to finish the day one stroke off the pace.
Her birdie-birdie-eagle-birdie run around the turn had Feng - looking for her first victory at this major - watching nervously from the clubhouse and Wie said she felt “hot” after sinking a putt for her eagle.
“That was good,” she told Sky Sports. “The drive down there and a little cut with the six iron, and it was one of those putts that just dropped in and it was awesome. I felt really good after that eagle, I felt really hot out there.”
Se-ri Pak of South Korea also carded a five-under 67 to sit in a share of second place with Wie, where she is one ahead of both her countrywoman Amy Yang and 15-year-old American Angel Yin.
A freshman at Arcadia High School in Los Angeles County, teenager Yin impressed with three birdies on the front nine but, on her way back in, she mixed three more birdies with two bogeys.
Jiyai Shin, Jennifer Rosales and Cristie Kerr are in a three-way tie for sixth place.
Defending champion Inbee Park had an opening round to forget, shooting three bogeys and a birdie to sit two-over, while 2011 winner Stacy Lewis is a stroke better off in a share of 30th place with New Zealand’s Lydia Ko and English hopeful Charley Hull.