Lydia Ko chopped birdies with bogeys early in her round but finished the first day of the Australian Open on the right side of the ledger at Royal Adelaide.

Ko, 20, birdied the par-5 ninth, her last hole of the day to finish on two-under par 71 and safely ensconced in the top quarter of the leaderboard.

Earlier, she'd made three birdies but alternated them with bogeys on the back nine as she made the turn in one-under par. She was steady through the second part of her round before finishing with a welcome par.

The world No1 returned to the LPGA Tour for 2017 with a raft of changes under her belt - a new coach, new caddie and new clubs - as she sought to arrest a brief form slide at the back end of 2016.


Her steady if not spectacular performance is a good launching pad on a day when more than half the field was over par. She just hopes her putter warms up after a frustratign day on the greens.

"I hit my drives good, which is really important around a course like this, but just the putts did not drop," Ko said. "It was good to see a putt drop on the final hole and hopefully that will give me good momentum going into tomorrow."

Queenslander Katherine Kirk made a blazing start to the event as light winds and relatively cool temperatures made conditions ideal for scoring. She birdied four of her initial five holes en route to a flawless eight-under par 65.

American duo Marissa Steen and Jane Park and South Korean Chella Choi were at six-under, while Canada's world No8 Brooke Henderson was among a batch at four-under.

Kiwi Cathryn Bristow shot a three-over par 76.