Cara Gainer fired an opening round of 66 (-7) on day one of the Andalucía Costa del Sol Open de España at Alferini Golf.
The Englishwoman began her round on the 11th hole and opened with a birdie, she rolled in another on 13 before dropping a shot on 14.
However, Gainer found her stride making four consecutive birdies on holes 16 through to the first and despite another bogey on the third, she made three further birdies to sign for a round of seven-under.
‘Overall, I’m really really pleased,’ she said. ‘I couldn’t have asked for a better start. I got it going, I was quite patient, I hit the ball lovely today and holed a few putts.
‘It played very different to the practice days. We were having 20 mph winds and we really had no wind today and it was a lot warmer. The ball was flying further, we had one or two clubs less in on every hole today which makes it a bit easier to hit it close.
‘I would give myself a seven or eight out of ten for the season. It’s trended really nicely since Belgium, that kickstarted the last four or five months. I’ve had some really solid results, but not quite all the way there. It’s nice to get off to a good start this week, still plenty of golf to go.’
Gainer sits one shot ahead of defending champion Carlota Ciganda, who carded a round of six-under 67 on the first day.
It was a slower start for the Spaniard who rolled in birdies on six and eight before making a double bogey on 11 to take herself back to level par for the round.
But she got on a hot streak on the back nine rolling in six consecutive birdies to put herself firmly near the top of the leaderboard.
Four players are shared for third place with Switzerland’s Morgane Metraux, France’s Anais Meyssonnier, Ireland’s Leona Maguire and Sweden’s Linn Grant all on five-under-par.
It was a bogey-free day for Metraux as she rolled in five birdies for her round of 68 and she was pleased with her day’s work.
Meyssonnier also had a good day making an eagle on the par-four 15th hole alongside four birdies and one bogey.
While Irish superstar Maguire, who started from the 11th tee, dropped her only shot of the day on 18 and had an eagle on her scorecard.
Leader of the 2022 Race to Costa del Sol Grant recovered well on the first day after making two birdies in her first three holes.
The Swede soon found her feet rolling in birdies on four, six, eight and 12 before making three consecutively on 16 through 18 to finish with a flourish.
Nine players sit one shot further back in a tie for seventh place including Swedish duo Maja Stark and Jessica Karlsson, South Africans Lee-Anne Pace and Casandra Alexander, English pair Hannah Burke and Alice Hewson, Spain’s Nuria Iturrioz and Azahara Muñoz, and Dutch star Anne Van Dam.