Laura Davies at Portmarnock Links last year.Defending champion Laura Davies opened her title defence with a five-under par 68 in the Handa Women’s Australian Open at Commonwealth Golf Club.

The English veteran, 46, leads by two shots from a group of six players just a week after capturing the New Zealand Women’s Open.

Ireland’s hopefuls made a slow start with Hazel Kavanagh the best of the bunch in a share of 52nd place after a three over par 76.

Rebecca Coakley is tied for 70th after a four over par 77 but US based Alison Walshe had eight bogeys and just one birdie in a seven over par 80.