Women's British Open
-3 S Gal (Ger) -2 A Stanford (US), SH Kim (Kor) -1 Y Mitsuka (Jpn), HY Park (Kor) Par M Hjorth (Swe) Selected others: +1 M Wie (US) +2 S Head (Eng), P Creamer (US), C Matthew (Sco) +3L Ochoa (Mex) +5 J Moodie (Sco), B Brewerton (Wal) +7 L Davies (Eng)
Highlights - Stanford impresses on day one
Germany's Sandra Gal hit a birdie at the penultimate hole to make a late push to the top of the leaderboard in round one of the Women's British Open.
Amid blustery early conditions at Lytham, scoring proved difficult and American Angela Stanford was one of the few below par with a two-under-par 70.
She was later joined by Korean Kim Song-Hee, but both were surpassed late on as Gal exploited calmer conditions.
World number one Lorena Ochoa carded 75 and holder Shin Ji-Yai amassed a 77.
Scotland's Catriona Matthew saw a good round ruined late on for a 72.
Matthew, currently in the last qualifying position for the Solheim Cup, matched Stanford's eagle on the 7th and was one under with two to play.
However, she double-bogeyed the 419-yard 17th and then dropped another shot at the last for a 74.
England's Samantha Head was also on two over as she, too, double bogeyed the 17th.
World number 69 Gal finished her round just after 2100 BST amid increasingly dark conditions at Royal Lytham and St Annes.
After nearly 15 hours play without a single score in the 60s, just two people were left in the grandstand when the 24-year-old chipped to within three feet of the final flag and holed out for a 69.
"There were a few gutsy people out there, so that was nice," she said. "You don't win majors in the first round but it's definitely always nice to be on top."
That put her ahead of Kim and Stanford, the latter of which's two previous trips to the famous Lancashire links had seen her slump to rounds of 85 and 80.
The world number seven, runner-up in the 2003 US Open, had also missed the cut in the championship on four of her last five visits, so she came up with a different plan - visit the Sistine Chapel and arrive only the day before.
"I thought 'I'm going to take my mind off this, all the negative feelings I have' - and I've always wanted to see Rome," she said. "I was mentally in a better state than if I'd been here the whole week."
Highlights - Wie saves par at the 15th
Stanford, whose mother is currently undergoing breast cancer treatment, sank a 66-foot eagle putt on the long 7th and after two late bogeys finished on a high note with a 30-foot birdie putt.
She was later joined at the top of the leaderboard by Kim, who secured a fine finish to a topsy-turvy round with a birdie at the last after bogeys at 14, 16 and 17 had threatened to ruin her day.
American Michelle Wie, targeting a place in the United States Solheim Cup team, was one over after three birdies and four bogeys.
The 19-year-old has enjoyed a runner-up finish and two third places in her first full season as an LPGA Tour member, but struggled playing into the wind on the back nine to finish in joint seventh.
The conditions played havoc for a number of the game's leading stars, though.
Mexico's Ochoa mixed four birdies with five bogeys and a double for 75, while Korea's defending champion Shin was two worse than that.
On a windswept course described as "hellacious and brutal" by 2005 winner Karen Stupples after she took 82, last season's European Tour number one and Solheim Cup leading points-earner this season Gwladys Nocera had two eights on her scorecard and played the last 12 holes in 17 over par for a 91.
And Korean Soo-yung Kang, later disqualified for not signing her card, finished with an octuple bogey 12 on the 386-yard 18th for an 87.