Indian golfer Smriti Mehra charged to the top of the leaderboard on the opening day of the $200,000 Enjoy Jakarta Ladies Indonesia Open inJakarta after carding a three-under 69.
Among other Indians, Neha Tripathi (75) was tied 26th, Vani Kapoor (76) was tied 35th and Saaniya Sharma (78) was tied 49th at the Palm Hill Golf Club in the ninth leg on this year's Ladies Asian Golf Tour (LAGT).
The Enjoy Jakarta Ladies Indonesia Open features 84 players. The tournament is played over 54 holes with no cut made. It is the most lucrative women's National Open in South East Asia with the winner earning a cheque for $30,000.
Thailand's Thidapa Suwannapura, Patcharachuta Kongkapan, Malaysian amateur Kelly Tan, Walailak Satarak from the United States, and Chinese Taipei's Hsieh Yu-ling all shot 71 to tie for second place.
The 40-year-old Mehra struck three birdies in a row from the second hole to seize the lead. Another birdie on the 11th moved her to four-under before she made her only bogey of the day on the following hole.
"I hit the ball the same on both nines but the putts seemed to drop on the front. I kept it steady and slow and got it done," Mehra said.
The Indian, a powerful hitter, has spent much of her career playing on the US LPGA Tour and has also triumphed twice on the Futures Tour in the States.
"I have been several times to Indonesia and I love it here. I love playing in Southeast Asian countries. I have always supported Asian golf. I played on the LPGA Tour for about 12 years but I now play on the Ladies European Tour and I always come back to play in Asia," said Mehra.
She won the Women's Malaysian Open in 2002 and after a good start this week, she is well-placed to secure another title in the region.
Mehra was in the first group out and was paired with 13-year-old amateur Julia Alhemoud from Kuwait, who returned a 94.
"I am sure she had a good time but she was upset with the way she played. She walked off saying it was the worst round but I said it doesn't matter as you are 13 years old and I am 40 so you know you have 27 years on me," said Mehra.
When asked why women's golf in India has not developed as rapidly as the men's game, Mehra said, "We started a women's pro organisation in 2005 and I was the only professional then. Today we have 20 which is not bad. We only had about eight amateurs then but we have about 500 today."
Photograph: Getty Images