Bangalore: Sharmila Nicollet shot a one-under 71 on Wednesday in her first tournament in India in more than six months and the only sub-par card of the day giving the 21-year-old a two-stroke lead in the Rs.10 lakh Hero-KGA Women`s Pro Golf event.
Sharmila was two strokes clear of Neha Tripathi (73) and Saaniya Sharma (73) and three ahead of Nalini Singh Siwach (74) and local amateur Aditi Ashok (74).
Vani Kapoor, making her debut as a professional went into the water on the first hole, but still finished the day with an impressive 75 to lie sixth. Seasoned Smriti Mehra had a tough day with a five-over 77.
Sharmila, who last played on the domestic Tour late last year, has been on the Ladies European Tour (LET) since.
"I played well and hit the ball well and am happy overall with the game," she said.
"I want to do well and get back my confidence before I go for more events in Asia and Europe. I know there is room for improvement," Sharmila added.
Sharmila, who won twice in the 10 events she played on the domestic Tour last season, had four birdies and three bogeys.
"The good thing is the 71 came despite three bogeys on par-fives, which is usually my strength. All my bogeys came on par-fives and that really is unusual because I can reach most of these par-fives in two (shots).
"But it also means I can look forward to doing better tomorrow," she said picking the positives from the first round. Sharmila was the only player to bogey three par-fives.
Neha Tripathi, who won the season opener last year, had a great day with five birdies - the most by any player on the first day - but she also gave away six bogeys in her card of 73.
The bad patch for Neha came from the sixth to ninth, when she bogeyed four in a row. She had birdies on first, second, 10th, 11th and 16th.
Saaniya, who also had one win last season, had three birdies, all on back nine, and four bogeys, three of them also on the return journey.
"I hit the ball well and from that point I am happy with my game and I don`t want to think negative," said Chandigarh girl Saaniya.
Amateur Aditi, who won an event on pro tour last year, shot 74 with two birdies and four bogeys. She was all over the course, but her amazing putting saved the day. She found just three greens in regulation, but needed only 23 putts.