Leona Maguire shot a level par 71 on the first day of the AIG Women's Open at Muirfield to stay within six shots of leader Hinako Shibuno after the former champion produced a "frightening" display of putting.
Shibuno, who won her maiden major title at Woburn in 2019, made a flying start with birdies on the first three holes and went on to card eight in total in an opening six-under-par 65 in the £6 million event.
That gave the 23-year-old from Japan a one-shot lead over American Jessica Korda, with Scotland’s Louise Duncan and Mexico’s Gabby Lopez another stroke back following a 67.
Maguire started brightly with a birdie at the par four first, before giving the shot back at the par-three fourth.
There were further birdies for the Cavan golfer at the fifth and 10th but she slipped out of the red numbers with bogeys at the 12th and 15th holes.
It was a round to forget for Stephanie Meadow, who shot a five-over 76 featuring not a single birdie.
But for Shibuno it was a dream opening round.
"It has been a long time since I’ve played this well, especially putting. Honestly it was a little frightening," she said through an interpreter.
"I haven’t changed much. My caddie told me that my body balance was off when I was missing putts. Once I focused on this, I could play much better.
"Two years ago when we were playing at Royal Troon, the wind completely overtook my shots. I wasn’t thinking about how to use this to my advantage.
"However, for this tournament I could adapt my style to the elements. I imagined my swing, if the wind was coming from the right I could play by feel how far from the pin I needed to aim for."
Korda (above) recovered from an early bogey to record four birdies and an eagle on the 17th, despite having to play in borrowed clothes as her luggage had failed to arrive.
"If anyone knows anyone at the Zurich airport that would like to put my suitcase on the one flight a day that they have coming into Edinburgh, I'd deeply appreciate it," the world number 14 said.
"I know where it is, I have an air tag on it. I can’t get anyone to actually go get it.
"Monday I wore Megan Khang’s pants. Tuesday, I wore my sister’s pants and Wednesday I wore Alison Lee’s pants. Today I’m wearing FootJoy pants."
Playing in the first group at 6.30am alongside former champion and local resident Catriona Matthew, Duncan recorded an eagle, four birdies and two bogeys to match her score from the opening round at Carnoustie 12 months ago, when she finished 10th while still an amateur.
"It was worth the 4.30 alarm," said the 22-year-old, who turned professional in July and missed the cut in her first event in the paid ranks last week. "I wouldn’t be happy if it wasn’t worth it.
"I’m just really happy overall with my game. I hit loads of greens, lots of great putts. I stayed patient as well which led to holing a putt (for eagle) on 17.
"I think the key is I didn’t take it too seriously. I just went out and enjoyed my warm-up, had a wee chat with Dean (Robertson, her coach and caddie).
"I haven’t had a paycheck and still feel like I’m an amateur. Yeah, I’m rolling with the punches and we’ll see where it takes me."
Two-time Solheim Cup captain Matthew struggled to a five-over-par 76, making double bogeys on the first and 10th and failing to make a single birdie.
"Being the first women’s pro event to be played here, it’s great, and me being local it was a huge honour to hit the first tee shot," said Matthew, who lives in nearby North Berwick.
"Apart from the two doubles I actually played quite well. It’s a little frustrating. Louise played great though. Great round from her. She kept it very steady, didn’t get into any trouble and took advantage of the par fives."
Additional reporting: PA