(Reuters) - Long-hitting Brittany Lincicome birdied two of her last four holes in energy-sapping heat to surge into a three-way tie for the lead in Thursday's opening round of the U.S. Women's Open in Kohler, Wisconsin.
Lincicome, who claimed her first major title at the 2009 Kraft Nabisco Championship, fired a three-under-par 69 at Blackwolf Run to end a marathon day level with fellow Americans Cristie Kerr and Lizette Salas.
Kerr, winner of the 2007 U.S. Women's Open, parred her final 11 holes after recording three birdies in her first seven while Salas mixed four birdies with a lone bogey as the trio took joint control of the year's third major.
Japan's Ai Miyazato, who clinched her ninth LPGA Tour title at the NW Arkansas Championship on Sunday, was among a group of four players one stroke off the pace after she opened with a four-birdie 70.
The in-form Miyazato played most of her round before the temperature peaked at around 98 degrees Fahrenheit (36.66 degrees Celsius) and said she had intentionally buried memories of her victory four days ago.
"Last week was just last week," the 27-year-old world number three told reporters. "I try to forget about my winning because this week is just a completely different golf course and different conditions, too.
"I just trying to shake off everything and make a fresh start, and that's why I think I played really well today."
Asked how difficult it had been to cope with the soaring temperatures and high humidity, Miyazato replied: "I'm lucky because I played in the morning, so it wasn't too bad.
"But the last five holes it was really hard. I had the ice pack in my golf bag ... and that helped. It wasn't easy to keep really strong focus. You are just trying to stay in the present, and not really think about this heat."
Miyazato birdied four of her last nine holes to finish the opening round level with Americans Jennie Lee and Lexi Thompson as well as Spaniard Beatriz Recari.
Taiwan's world number one Yani Tseng, who has claimed five of the last 10 major titles, battled to a roller-coaster 74 that included four birdies, one double-bogey and a triple-bogey at the par-four 11th.
(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank Pingue and Nick Mulvenney)
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