Hull three off the pace in Delhi

Valentine Derrey of France fired a flawless six-under-par 66 to share the opening round lead with Thidapa Suwannapura of Thailand at the Hero Women’s Indian Open.

Derrey, the 2011 Tate and Lyle Players’ Champion on the US Symetra Tour, is yet to win on the Ladies European Tour, but her game is in the ascendancy after third and second place finishes at the Helsingborg Open and Lacoste Ladies Open de France in September and October respectively.

The 26-year-old from Paris is hoping to go one place better this month and adopted a target golf style of play to record six birdies on the tight and treacherous course at Delhi Golf Club, whose narrow fairways are surrounded by dense foliage.

Also playing in the afternoon, in temperatures topping 28C, fellow former Symetra Tour winner Suwannapura carded seven birdies and one bogey on the par-3 7th after finding a bunker.

Hannah Jun of the United States placed third on 68, four-under-par, while Ladies European Tour rookie professional Charley Hull from England was a further shot back in outright fourth.

Patience paid off for Derrey, who enjoyed the challenging golf course. “I played pretty steady and made six birdies. I hit 10 fairways, 15 greens, made 27 putts. I didn’t really make any mistakes. I made everything. Hopefully it stays like that tomorrow.”

Derrey used her driver seven or eight times and hit the ball straight. “I knew I was playing well the last few months. I made some putts and six under,” she continued. “My driving was good and I hit 10 fairways. I missed four but close to the fairway.”

Two Asian pros tied for fifth spot – Titiya Plucksataporn of Thailand and South Korean Bo Mi Suh.

Thai pros have traditionally fared well in this tournament – with Pornanong Phatlum having won three times in 2008, 2009 and 2012 at DLF Golf Club in Gurgaon – before the event moved to Delhi Golf Club for the first time this year.

Sunawannapura, 21, hopes to continue the Thai success story and said: “Today I was hitting it straight all the way: that was the key to my game.”

Jun, 28, from California, played her first nine holes in level par but picked up four birdies in five holes from the second on her inward nine.

“There are a lot of tee shots which are pretty tight on that back side so once I got through the back, the front nine is pretty score-able in terms of aiming at pins and hitting fairways so I was a little more aggressive on the back and it worked out,” said Jun, whose career best finish on the LET is a tie for second at the 2011 Ladies Scottish Open.

Hull, the youngest professional in the field at 17, had few expectations and kept things simple.

“I hit it pretty good. I didn’t hit it that well in the practice rounds and on the range it was the worst I’ve ever hit it in my life but I went out there and flushed it again so I’m feeling pretty happy with my game,” said Hull.

The Solheim Cup heroine is hoping to clinch her first victory in India this week after posting five straight runner-up finishes at the start of the season.”