Beijing: Indian golfer Sharmila Nicollet was a picture of consistency as she recorded four-under 68 to share the lead after the first round of the Le Coq Sportif Beijing Ladies Classic on Thursday.
The lanky Indian, who is on a comeback trail, started on the first tee and was one-over through the first three holes, as she parred the first and third and bogeyed the second with a three-putt.
She then went on a birdie spree with five straight birdies from fourth to eighth. The birdies dried up after that, but she stayed steady and did not drop any shots. She had 10 pars in a row and ended the day at 68.
"I played really well today. I could have had a lot more birdies on the back nine but I missed a lot of putts within 10 feet. I had one three-putt on the second hole, the only bogey I got today. I could get much lower but it is okay," said Sharmila, the Bangalore native who is playing full-time on the CLPGA Tour this year.
"Playing in China is great, close to home, a little bit tough with the language but I am getting used to it. The tour is very organized and takes good care of its players. The competition is very good as well. I am having fun. It's nice to be here."
Sharmila topped the stats in both driving accuracy and GIRs. She shares the lead with three Chinese players, two of them amateurs, Ji Yifan and Yin Xiaowei, besides pro Li Xiya and Thailand's Wanchana Poruangrong.
Sharmila was longest off the tee, with her longest drive reaching 262.5 metres, while she averaged 92.9 per cent in driving and reached 88.9% greens in regulation. Though she had as many as seven one-putts, she needed 30 putts for the round.
Chinese amateurs Ji Yifan and Yin Xiaowen played extremely well for rounds of four-under 68 to grab a share of the first-round lead.
China's Yang Taoli and Chen Cuixia were one shot off the pace on 69 at the RMB800,000 China LPGA Tour tournament at Beijing Orient Pearl Golf Club.