Top-ranked Lydia Ko shot a three-under 69 on Friday and was three shots off the lead and in a tie for fifth place after the first round of the New Zealand Women's Open.

The 18-year-old South Korean-born New Zealander, defending her national title, sank a 20-foot put on the 18th hole for the fifth birdie of an opening round which also included two bogeys and left her within reach of the lead held by Norway's Nicole Broch Larsen at Clearwater Golf Club.

Larsen was a stroke ahead of Justine Dreher of France in the 54-hole tournament co-sanctioned by the Ladies European Tour. Gwladys Nocera of France and Scotland's Pamela Pretswell were tied for third, two behind Larsen, after 68s.