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Four share lead down under

FORMER English Open champion Becky Brewerton shared the lead with Lee Il-hee, Marianne Skarpnord and Lee-Anne Pace at five-under 67 after yesterday's first round of the Australian Ladies Masters in Gold Coast.

Brewerton of Wales had seven birdies, but she lost her chance for the outright lead with a double-bogey six on the second hole, her 11th, when she hooked her drive and then came undone in the trees.

"I had a clear shot, which was lucky, but the root behind the ball almost ripped the club out of my hand," the 2007 English Open winner said.

"I had a fantastic start to the day, firing at all the pins and getting to five-under after nine holes but then I hit that horrendous shot at the second."

The leading group was one shot clear of Spain's Carmen Alonso, Kim Hye-youn of South Korea, South African Stacy Lee Bregman and Ursula Wikstrom of Finland.

Women's British Open champion Shin Ji-yai of South Korea finished on 69, to share ninth place with local hope Katherine Hull, who closed with a seven-foot birdie putt.

Six-time Australian Ladies Masters champion Karrie Webb had an opening 70 to be three shots off the pace, one clear of No. 2-ranked Tseng Yani of Chinese Taipei, the US LPGA Championship winner who had a 71 despite struggling to overcome food poisoning. Tseng was equal with Japan's Ai Miyazato at one-under.

Australian Webb said she was satisfied with her "scratchy" 70 given her lack of practice and the fact she hasn't played tournament golf since last September.

Defending champion Lisa Hall of England had a six-over 78, including five bogies and a double bogey. She was one stroke ahead of British veteran Laura Davies.

In Bangkok, Australia's Marcus Both set the early pace at the season-opening Asian Tour International when he blasted an eight-under-par 63 to take the first-round lead at the Suwan Golf and Country Club yesterday.

Japan's Tetsuji Hiratsuka, who had earlier taken the morning lead, was a shot back in second place on 64 while Singapore-based Australian Unho Park and India's Rahil Gangjee were tied for third after posting matching 65s.

Japan's Kodai Ichihara, Finn Toni Karjalainen, Mo Joong-kyung of South Korea and Indian Gaganjeet Bhullar were trailing behind in tied-fifth on 66.

Defending champion Lin Wen-tang of Chinese Taipei carded a 73 to finish in tied-108 place while Thailand's Wisut Artjanawat was the best local performer after taking a share of ninth place on 67.


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