Solheim Cup contender Charley Hull wasted no time catching the eye of European captain Catriona Matthew as she got her 2019 campaign off to a flying start in the UAE.
In an event also featuring Matthew, the 22-year-old English player carded a five-under-par 67 to lead by two shots after the opening round in the Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open in Abu Dhabi.
Hull, a member of the last three Solheim Cup teams and hoping to be on Matthew’s side for the match at Gleneagles in September, signed for five birdies at Saadiyat Beach, four of which came in her opening seven holes.
“I played pretty steady and holed a few putts,” she said afterwards. “The highlights were on my front nine and then on my back nine I plodded along.”
Dane Nicole Broch Larsen and Spain’s Luna Sobron finished the day as Hull’s closest challengers on 69, a shot ahead of England’s Jodi Ewart Shadoff, Australian Rebecca Artis and Sweden’s Cajsa Persson.
Matthew fared best among a three-strong Scottish contingent with a one-over-par 73, which left her just inside the top 20.
Kylie Henry dropped five shots in four holes on the back nine as she had to settle for a 77, four less than Carly Booth after her error-strewn opening effort.
Edinburgh-based American Beth Allen, the 2016 winner, is alongside Henry in joint-38th after she dropped five shots in the first 10 holes.
Recovery of the day came from Dutch player Anne Van Dam, who was four-over at the turn before storming home in 32 for a level-par 72.
A two-time winner on the circuit last season, she’s on Mattthew’s radar for the clash with the Americans in Perthsire.