Leona Maguire and Stephanie Meadow both began their Major bids for the year with solid if unspectacular first rounds at the Chevron Championship at Mission Hills in California.
Maguire signed for a level-par 72 to sit six shots behind early joint-leaders Jennifer Kupcho and Minjee Lee, while Meadow is a shot further back after a 73 at the first of the five Major championships this season.
Both players were under-par at one point during their rounds but couldn’t kick on from there and will have to go low in Friday’s second round to get themselves into contention going into the weekend.
Maguire in particular will be frustrated she could not put herself in a better position after her opening round as she reached two-under thru her first 10 holes but couldn’t take advantage of that hot start.
The 27-year-old European Solheim Cup star birdied her opening hole, the 10th, and then bogeyed the par-three 14th, but birdies to end her front nine and start her back nine got her two shots below par.
However, just when it looked like she might mount a challenge, her momentum stalled and she would instead return to the clubhouse with bogeys at the third and fifth to finish well off the pace.
The same goes for Meadow who, likewise, birdied her second hole of the day, the par-five 11th, but she would finish her rounds with bogeys at the 18th and sixth to drop into a share of 63rd and in need to a good round on Friday to make the cut.
The women they are chasing are Kupcho and Lee, who hold a one-shot lead after each recorded six-under 66s in their first rounds in Rancho Mirage, California.
Kupcho’s round could have been even better had it not been for back-to-back bogeys on her final two holes, but a remarkable nine birdies before that – and one more bogey – has her alongside Australia’s Lee after day one.
“It’s always nice to be in contention out here, but there is a lot of golf. You never know what can happen. There is a lot of water out there, too,” said Kupcho.
“I’m just going to go out there and keep playing my game over the next three days.”
In contrast, Lee’s round was less dramatic, six birdies in a bogey-free effort earning her a share of the lead, with Patty Tavatanakit one shot further back followed by a group of six players which includes Lydia Ko and Georgia Hall.
“Just tried to just trust the process, my process, and just have a good back nine. Finished with two birdies, so it was nice,” said defending Evian Championship winner Lee.
Further down the leaderboard, World No.1 Jin Young Ko is battling just to make the cut as her remarkable run of 34 successive rounds under-par came to an end with a birdieless two-over 74.
The 26-year-old has set records and blitzed fields since the pandemic but, in a tie for 81st, she will need to go low on Friday afternoon just to make the midway cut let alone be in contention going into the weekend.
“I was hitting lots of great shots but my putting wasn’t good on the green. I couldn’t see the break as much or speed, everything was wrong,” explained Ko.
“I don’t know what happened. But that’s why I couldn’t make a birdie today. It’s fine.”