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Kirk surrenders lead but still in major hunt at ANA Inspiration

Katherine Kirk hits her tee shot on the 13th hole during the opening round of the ANA Inspiration in California.
Queenslander Katherine Kirk found herself at the top of the ANA Inspiration leaderboard 11 holes into her opening round but a run of three bogeys in four holes followed and she sits three off the early pace.

This year's event is shaping as a different beast after only one player, American Ally McDonald, was able to better three under par on the opening day at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, California.

Typically a low-scoring venue, Mission Hills' Dinah Shore Tournament Course gave up only 28 under par rounds in relatively calm conditions.

Twelve months ago, eventual winner Pernilla Lindberg took the opening round lead with a 7 under 65 but nobody looked like posting a similar number today.

McDonald - who is winless on the LPGA Tour and has only finished better than 58th once in five starts this year - upstaged the world-class field carding 7 birdies against three bogeys.

The 26-year-old leads by one shot from Swedish rookie Linnea Strom, recent winner Jin Young Ko and major winners Lexi Thompson and Hyo Joo Kim.

Ten players share sixth at 2 under including Lydia Ko while a further 13 players are at 1 under including Kirk.

Teeing off the 10th hole, Kirk birdied two of her first three holes and made the turn at 3 under before another birdie at the par-5 2nd moved her to 4 under.

A trio of bogeys on par fours at the 3rd, 4th and 6th undid much of the 37-year-old's good work but Kirk remains in a position to challenge for her first major championship victory.

Minjee Lee bogeyed the par-5 finishing hole to finish at 1 over while Sarah Jane Smith is the only other Australian inside the projected cut line following a 2 over 74.

Sarah Kemp - who played her way into the field with a runner-up finish at the Vic Open and further top-10 at the Women's Australian Open - was 5 over after 10 holes but recovered to a round of 76 which leaves her sharing 80th. 

Su Oh played her last 7 holes in 4 over and carded a 5 over 77, one better than Karrie Webb (78) while Hannah Green is equal 3rd last after an 8 over 80.

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