Thai teen Ariya Jutanugarn was one stroke off the pace after firing a four-under-par 69 in the opening round of the Women's Australian Open in Melbourne, Australia.
The 19-year-old, who finished runner-up at the Bahamas Classic two weeks ago, shot seven birdies against three bogeys at the par-73 Royal Melbourne Golf Club. She stayed second with a stroke behind leader Lee Il-Hee of South Korea who sank five birdies in a bogey-free round of 68.
"It was a good round today. I had good tee shots although I missed some fairways," said Ariya, ranked 60th in the world. "I created a lot of chances because my irons worked well."
Big-hitting Ariya, who got her tour card through a qualifying school in December, said she changed her game plan because the greens at the Royal Melbourne were fast.
"You have to place the ball at the right place and maybe you have to put it 10-15 yards short so that it runs to the pin."
In her injury-interrupted career, Ariya has never finished worse than 11th in seven previous LPGA Tour starts and has the power game to help tame Royal Melbourne's par fives.
Ariya first leapt to prominence when she earned a spot in the 2007 Honda LPGA Thailand at the age of 11, making her the youngest player ever to qualify for an LPGA tournament.
A stroke behind at joint third were world No.1 Lydia Ko of New Zealand, Min Seo-Kwak of South Korea and Alena Sharp of Canada.
The highlight of the 17-year-old Ko's opening round was an eagle on the par-five 14th hole when she drained a 36-foot putt to make amends for her only bogey of the day on the 13th.
Ariya's older sister Moriya shot a 77 to tie for 84th while Thidapa Suwannapura hit a 78 for a joint 102nd.
Patcharajutar Kongkraphan, who shot a 85, withdrew from the tournament.
Lee, winner of the 2013 Bahamas Classic, said she only made a late decision to come to Melbourne after her coach convinced her she had the game to contend on a course that claimed her before the cut in her only previous appearance in 2012.
"It's good to see how improved my golf is this year because I was here in 2012 [and] how I see the golf course at that time and now [is] totally different," she said. "It's really, really fun to see how much I have improved since then."
In Thailand, Onnarin Sattayabanphot took a five-shot lead into the final round of the second leg of the Singha-SAT Thai LPGA Championship.
In the second round yesterday at the par-72 Rancho Charnvee Resort & Country Club, JLPGA Tour player Onnarin post a seven-under-par 65 to lead on 11-under 133.
Ajira Nualraksa was second on 138 after she shot a second-round 71 while overnight leader Pinrath Loomboonruang hit a 73 to share third place with Janya Morrakotpan (67) and Kusuma Meechai (69).