Holly Clyburn sets course record at Australian Ladies Classic

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Briton Holly Clyburn has set a new course record with a sublime five-under-par 67 to be clubhouse leader after the opening round of Australian Ladies Classic at Bonville Golf Resort in Coffs Harbour.

On a fearsome course set into the hinterland, Clyburn used her powers of concentration and quality iron play to set the benchmark on Thursday.

"It's (a course) willing to tip you upside down at any moment," she declared.

"My iron play was pretty nice today and when I had the chance to hole some putts they did what they were told and went in.

"I just kept in the moment, kept digging deep and I played nicely coming in from the sixth. It was lovely."

In a testament to the challenge of the course, sanctioned by the European Tour, only 18 players of the 142-strong field broke par.

"If you make a mistake you are going to get punished," said legendary Briton Dame Laura Davies, who shot one-under.

"I didn't make many mistakes, so one under is a fair result. I could've had a couple more (birdies) but overall I'm really pleased."

Shot of the round belonged to Western Sydney teenager Belinda Ji, who aced the 131m par-3 17th in only her second professional tournament.

"I struck it really well. It was a good flight, just straight on line, one bounce and it hopped in," said the 15-year-old. It came seven years after her first hole-in-one.

Iceland's Valdis Thora Jonsdottir gave up two late bogeys to disrupt a tilt for the clubhouse lead but finished with one of the day's best rounds, a three under 69 to be in a tie for second.

Indian Sharmilla Nicolet (70) used local knowledge to guide her around Bonville, with teaching professional Richie Gallichan on her bag.

"Richie's been great," Nicolet said.

"He knows these greens and this course inside out."

Other rounds of note came from Spaniard Marta Sanz Barrio who finished three under in a nice return to form. The diminutive and quietly-spoken 26-year-old let her clubs do the talking.

"It's been a rough couple of weeks but it's nice for me to find (form) today."

Of the Australians, tournament favourite Hannah Green started well (70) to be in a tie for third.

The West Australian, who's boyfriend Jarryd Felton is defending his NZ PGA championship title this week at Palmerston on NZ's North Island, birdied her final two holes in a strong finish.

"I didn't think I hit it very well today but to be in contention at two under makes me very happy," she said.