Michele Thomson close to lead in Australian Open

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Michele Thomson is well in contention in the ISPS Handa Australian Open after a brilliant opening round at Royal Adelaide.

Playing in her first LPGA event, Thomson shot a five-under 68 to be three back from Australia’s Katherine Kirk.

The 28-year-old Aberdonian teed off early in the South Australian capital, making the most of the calm conditions.

“It was perfect actually and it was just good to get a score on the board,” Thomson said.

“I feel like I hit my irons really well and I didn’t really miss any greens until that Par 3 (16th).

“I was nervous last night trying to sleep but once I’d hit that first tee shot I felt good.

“I just thought anything under par would be good but I never expected 5-under so I’m ecstatic and we’ll see what happens tomorrow.”

Thomson will play in the afternoon tomorrow when windy conditions are again expected.

“The wind kind of suits me being from Scotland so we’ll see what the weather brings tomorrow,” she said.

Almost all of the lowest 10 rounds were completed in the morning, before the afternoon sea breeze made conditions more difficult.

The other two Scottish players in the field, Catriona Matthew and Gemma Dryburgh both played in the afternoon, bearing the brunt of the southwesterly wind.

Dryburgh, also playing her first LPGA tournament, made the perfect start to her career on the world’s biggest women’s tour in the form of a birdie on the opening hole.

The 23-year-old turned at two-under but two late bogeys saw her finish at even par for the round.

She said was pleased with the way she played, particularly on the front nine. “The back nine was quite tough when the wind got up so I just tried to hang in there.

“Hopefully there will be less wind in the morning tomorrow.”

Matthew also had two early birdies but a couple of costly double-bogeys on the back nine saw her finish the day at three-over par.

World No 1 Lydia Ko shot two-under while second-ranked Ariya Jutanugarn is a further stroke back.

Canadian teenager Brooke Henderson opened with a four-under 69, one shot ahead of popular American Michelle Wie, who is using a new “claw grip” this week.

Kirk birdied four of the first five holes on her way to a bogey-free effort but the news wasn’t so good for crowd favourite and five-time Australian Open champion Karrie Webb, who shot a three-over 76.