Brittany Lincicome has started well before

Co-leader Brittany Lincicome also led the Women's Open after the first round in 2004, as an amateur. AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps

KOHLER, Wis. -- Brittany Lincicome has been down this road before; she led the U.S. Women’s Open as an amateur after one round in 2004. She was just 18 years old at the time, and her father was her caddie. At one point, she eagled a par-4 with a great shot … and then started crying.

Now an LPGA veteran at the ripe old age of 26, Lincicome laughed when reminded of her Women’s Open debut.

“I see pictures of that shot, and I remember busting into tears,” Lincicome said Thursday at Blackwolf Run as she talked with the media after a round of 3-under 69. “I remember talking to my dad, and he was crying. He was like, ‘Why are we crying? What does this mean? What are we doing?’

“My dad is sitting in here with us right now. He follows every single round I ever play.”

He surely liked what he saw Thursday as Lincicome finished with a share of the lead, along with 2007 Women’s Open champion Cristie Kerr and LPGA rookie Lizette Salas.

Lincicome -- who is 5 foot 9 and seems even taller, considering how diminutive many of her LPGA peers are -- always has been known as a big bomber off the tee. It’s one of the things that makes her so much fun to watch when she’s playing well.

But she hasn’t performed the way she wanted to in recent weeks, including a tie for 43rd last Sunday in Arkansas. What turned around for such a good opening day at this major tournament?

“I had 25 putts today, which I haven't seen all year, pretty much,” Lincicome said. “So it was nice to see the putter kind of going my way. I felt very confident today with it.

“Putting is all confidence. You can shut it down, slice it, hook it, do whatever you want in the stroke. But as long as you’re confident in doing it, you can kind of trick your mind into thinking you’re the best putter ever. Even if you have the worst stroke on tour. But it doesn't matter, as long it gets in the hole.”

A player who really has been the top putter on tour this season in terms of average, Japan’s Ai Miyazato, was among four players tied one stroke back of the leaders at 2-under 70. That group includes American Lexi Thompson, who is playing in her sixth Women’s Open despite being just 17.

She’s not a big fan of the excruciating pace of play, which tends to be one of the unchanging facets of the early rounds of this major, in particular. But it was probably exacerbated here by the very hot weather.

“I didn't realize how slow it was going until I made the turn, and it was three hours later,” Thompson said. “You know, you just have to do your routine on every shot and just keep your focus.”

It was not a good day for maintaining focus for the top-ranked American, Stacy Lewis. She shot a 5-over 77 and will need to improve a lot Friday to make the cut.

World No. 1 Yani Tseng, though, is at least still in shouting distance of the leaders. Tseng, trying for the only major she has yet to win, shot a 2-over 74 and is a tie for 38th.