World amateur No 1 Leona Maguire fired four birdies in a super 69 to lie just three shots off the lead after the opening round of the ISPS HANDA Ladies European Masters.
The 20-year old Slieve Russell and Duke Univeristy talent opted to skip last week’s Irish Women’s Close to be fresh for the Vagliano Trophy, this week’s professional event and next week’s European Ladies Team Championships.
And her decision to test herself against the best seems to be paying off after she followed a level par front nine featuring a birdie at the sixth and a bogey at the eighth with three back nine birdies to end the day tied for 12th spot.
Sophie Giquel-Bettan of France shot a six under par 66 to take a one shot lead over South African Ashleigh Simon, Italian Sophie Sandolo, Josephine Janson of Sweden and Nontaya Srisawang from Thailand.
English pair Charley Hull and Trish Johnson are part of a large group two strokes off the pace, on four under par.
Carlow’s Rebecca Codd had a tough day and ended it near the back of the field after a forgettable 83.
Meanwhile, in the US, Royal Portrush's Stephanie Meadow has been drawn with Korea's Mi Jung Hur and Thailand's Moriya Jutanugarn for next week's US Women’s Open Championship at Lancaster Country Club in Pennsylvania.
The Jordanstown starlet was third in last year's US Women's Open at Pinehurst No 2.
ISPS HANDA Ladies European Masters, the Buckinghamshire (Par 72)
66 Sophie Giquel-Bettan (FRA)
67 Ashleigh Simon (RSA), Nontaya Srisawang (THA), Josephine Janson (SWE)
68 Marta Sanz Barrio (ESP), Charley Hull (ENG), Emily Kristine Pedersen (DNK), Trish Johnson (ENG), Diana Luna (ITA), Sophie Sandolo (ITA), Ssu-Chia Cheng (TPE)
69 Leona Maguire (IRL), Nicole Broch Larsen (DEN), Isabella Ramsay (SWE), Pamela Pretswell (SCO), Marianne Skarpnord (NOR), Felicity Johnson (ENG), Titiya Plucksataporn (THA), Gwladys Nocera (FRA), Becky Morgan (WAL), Charlotte Ellis (ENG),
70 Rebecca Artis (AUS), Klara Spilkova (CZE), Florentyna Parker (ENG), Minea Blomqvist (FIN), Charlotte Thompson (ENG), Ann-Kathrin Lindner (GER), Stacy Lee Bregman (RSA), Sarah Attwood (ENG), Caroline Masson (GER), Alex Peters (ENG), Heather Macrae (SCO), Rebecca Hudson (ENG), Holly Clyburn (ENG), Sophie Walker (ENG), Lauren Taylor (ENG)
71 Valentine Derrey (FRA), Nanna Koerstz Madsen (DNK), Laura Davies (ENG), Malene Jorgensen (DEN), Melissa Reid (ENG), Leigh Whittaker (GER), Isabelle Boineau (FRA), Maria Palacios Siegenthaler (ESP), Camilla Lennarth (SWE), Louise Friberg (SWE), Beth Allen (USA), Bree Arthur (AUS), Carly Booth (SCO)
72 Liv Cheng (NZL), Anne-Lise Caudal (FRA), Alexandra Vilatte (FRA), Caroline Martens (NOR), Viva Schlasberg (SWE), Lina Boqvist (SWE), Caroline Afonso (FRA), Stephanie Na (AUS), Marion Ricordeau (FRA), Sarah Kemp (AUS), Danielle Montgomery (ENG), Hannah Ralph (ENG), Amy Boulden (WAL), Csilla Lajtai-rozsa (HUN), India Clyburn (ENG), Ursula Wikstrom (FIN), Caroline Rominger (SWI)
73 Paula Hurtado (COL), Maria Balikoeva (RUS), Sophia Popov (GER), Noora Tamminen (FIN), Louise Stahle (SWE), Anna Christina Kindgren (COL), Nina Muehl (AUT), Lien Willems (BEL), Steffi Kirchmayr (GER), Maha Haddioui (MAR), Rachel Goodall (ENG), Nina Holleder (GER), Johanna Bjork (SWE)
74 Georgia Hall (ENG), Jade Schaeffer (FRA), Elisa Serramia (ESP), Hannah Burke (ENG), Patricia Sanz Barrio (ESP), Marika Voss (FIN), Melanie Maetzler (SWI), Eleanor Givens (ENG), Emma Goddard (ENG), Miriam Nagl (BRA), Linda Henriksson (FIN), Fabienne In-albon (SWI), Bonita Bredenhann (NAM), Giulia Sergas (ITA), Cathryn Bristow (NZL), Stefania Croce (ITA), Margherita Rigon (ITA), Melissa Eaton (RSA)
75 Kelsey Macdonald (SCO), Whitney Hillier (AUS), Anjelika Hammar (SWE), Georgina Simpson (ENG), Sarah-Jane Boyd (ENG), Lucie Andre (FRA), Liz Young (ENG), Holly Aitchison (ENG), Julia Davidsson (SWE), Laurette Maritz (RSA), Linda Wessberg (SWE), Laura Jansone (LVA), Maria Beautell (ESP)
76 Karolin Lampert (GER), Lynn Carlsson (SWE), Laura Sanchez (COL), Krista Bakker (FIN), Connie Chen (RSA), Elina Nummenpaa (FIN), Christine Wolf (AUT), Laura Cabanillas (ESP), Sally Watson (SCO)
77 Neha Tripathi (IND), Laura Murray (SCO), Marie Fourquier (FRA), Anais Maggetti (SWI), Rebecca Sorensen (SWE)
78 Nicole Garcia (RSA), Anne Van Dam (NLD), Sahra Hassan (WAL), Chloe Leurquin (BEL), Monique Smit (RSA), Stacey Keating (AUS), Vikki Laing (SCO), Carmen Alonso (ESP), Daisy Nielsen (DEN), Emma Westin (SWE)
79 Kiran Matharu (ENG), Annabel Dimmock (ENG), Amanda Strang (SWE), Portland Rosen (USA)
80 Becky Brewerton (WAL)
81 Mireia Prat (ESP), Carin Koch (SWE)
83 Rebecca Codd (IRL), Amber Ratcliffe (ENG)
84 Virginia Espejo (ESP)