Lee-Anne Pace shot a four-under-par 68 at Rancho Mirage on Thursday to share third place after round one of the ANA Inspiration.
South Africa’s top-ranked female golfer made one mistake, which was a bogey at the 18th to slip out of a share of the lead.
‘I had a really good time,’ said Pace. ‘I had a new caddie Johan from South Africa, and we’ve been friends for 15 years. Just really clicking out there. He started last week. But, yeah, put the ball in the right place and made a few putts.’
Japan’s Ai Miyazato and Spain’s Azahara Munoz shared top spot after round one, having both shot five-under-par 67 for the first round.
Pace recently won the season-long Chase to the Investec Cup for a third time after winning four of five tournaments that she played in South Africa this year.
On Thursday she birdied the third, sixth, and eighth to turn three-under, then added further gains at the 11th and 12th to share the lead. Her drop at the last set her back into a share of third, but it didn’t little to knock her confidence.
She’ll be looking to make the famous jump into Poppy’s Pond – the water hazard next to the 18th green where players take the plunge after winning the year’s first major.
‘I love this course. I’ve always felt like I can play really good out here,’ Pace said. ‘I spoke to my coach about it yesterday, I’m more ready for this major than ever before.’