New South Wales Sarah Kemp is just three of the pace after the opening round of the season ending Omega Dubai Ladies Masters.
Kemp mixed four birdies with two bogeys to sign for two-under-par 70 at the Emirates Golf Club. She is chasing the Spanish pair of Carlota Ciganda and Mireira Prat and Sweden’s Pernilla Lindberg.
Pornanong Phatlum of Thailand was solo fourth, just one stroke behind the leaders, with Germany’s Solheim Cup star Caroline Masson alone in fifth on three-under-par.
Rolex Ranked World No. 3 Stacy Lewis of the USA, who is making her first appearance in Dubai, kept herself in the frame as one of seven players, including Kemp, in a share of sixth on two-under 70. Other players at two-under include English pair Charley Hull and Laura Davies.
Darkness called an early halt to the first round on a day when early fog led to a 30-minute delay to the start of the play.
Prat, 24, from Barcelona, won the LET Access Series Order of Merit last week earning her full card for the 2014 LET and feels relaxed, as though her first visit to Dubai is a prize.
The second year LET member had five birdies and said: “I putted really well. I think I missed three shots and I recovered very well to make par so I’m very happy.
“I know I have my full card for next year and it was my goal for this year, so I think there is no pressure here and maybe that’s the key. I was very confident at the start and played very well and was relaxed. It’s the first day of a four day tournament so I’m going to keep focused and do things like I did today and we’ll see what happens.”
Rated as one of the favourites, Lewis drove the ball well, but felt whatever she did right was derailed once she got on the greens. “It was a bit frustrating out there. I hit the ball well, but just couldn’t make any putts. I think the longest putt I made was six or seven feet. My speed was a little off on the greens.
“I feel like the course is playing hard enough that no-one’s going to run away and shoot a great score. The greens are firm and fast and you’ve got to play smart. I feel like I’m still in it. We’ve got three more days and if I can make some putts I’ll be there.”
Two groups, containing six players, will finish their first rounds at 7.10am on Thursday morning while tee times for the second round are unchanged.
Queensland's Bree Arthur is the next best placed Australian, she is at one-over and tied for 28th. Nikki Campbell is a further shot adrift and tied for 44th, while Alison Whitaker is at three-over and shares 57th place.
The projected cut is currently three-over, WA's Whitney Hillier is at four-over, while Nikki Garrett is further back at six-over and has some work to do.