Canadian Brooke Henderson and Brit Jodi Ewart Shadoff capitalised on calm morning conditions to seize the opening round lead at the New Zealand Women's Open.

Playing in the same 8.09am tee-off group from hole 10, the pair shot seven-under-par 65s.

The links-style Windross Farm course presented few fears in the still spring air, prior to the arrival of southwesterly gusts in the afternoon.

Local hope Lydia Ko was five shots back after carding a 70, which was split into nines of 33 and 37. She also started from the 10th tee.


"I hit the ball well throughout the day and gave myself a good look at birdies - even on my back nine - but couldn't hole them.

"There was a three-putt on the 17th but, when you're putting from 60 feet, you can't assume it'll be one or two putts. That was probably due to a not-so-good previous shot, rather than my putter.

"I kept committing to lines, and all you can do is trust the read and put a good stroke on it."

Ko said the wind had baked some of the greens.

"Take my last hole [No.9]; I pitched it a couple of yards short of the pin but ended up going 13-15 yards past.

"It showed you have to be careful with what the ball might do if you come in [to the greens] with longer clubs."

After practising in rougher conditions earlier in the week, Henderson agreed the course plays differently when the wind picks up.

"I was fortunate this morning when it was calm and the greens were holding. I knew I could take advantage.

"This is playing a bit shorter [in distance] than what we typically play [in LPGA events]. I put a lot of wedges in. On one par five today I only had to hit 80 yards to the green, whereas in a practice round I had to hit 150.

"Even if you were a few shots behind going into the weekend, you could make a difference depending on the conditions."

The opening round marked a transformation from what were acres of corn and potato paddocks six years ago.

Ewart Shadoff was impressed with how the new course had fared in its LPGA debut.

"Especially the greens. The fairways need maybe another year to be good but... it's definitely forgiving off the tee.

"If the weather stays calm, you could shoot the lights out around here. I don't know if the forecast is as good over the next few days."

Wales' Amy Boulden and Spain's Belen Mozo were third-equal after shooting six-under-par 66s. Boulden played arguably the round of the day, battling the afternoon wind.

"I was bogey free and made some good par saves like on the eighth where I didn't have a good tee shot and hit a 3-wood in, which is a bit embarrassing.

"I play a links golf course back home, so feel at home here. The first few holes played quite short, but even when the wind got up I'm used to this type of weather."

Rain showers and a stiffening northerly breeze are forecast for the second round.

Tournament organisers can also change the length and angle of holes by adjusting tee and pin positions on a daily basis.

A gallery of about 500 followed Ko early, a figure which increased as she advanced around the course. This writer's eavesdropping revealed all patrons knew her on a first name basis, or even "Lyds" for those feeling particularly familiar.

"I wasn't really sure how many people would come out on a Thursday morning," Ko said.

"It's fun to be playing at home, and having fans clapping for me whether I make a bogey or birdie."

That sentiment even extended to those whose cameras were going off late.

"There were a few," Ko said. "But I didn't think about it too much because I was just pleased to see people out there.

"You just have to understand it might be their first time on a golf course and they might not know [to refrain from taking pictures during a player's swing]."

On a brighter note, no "geddintheholes" were reported across the day.