Sylvania, OH (Sports Network) - Alison Walshe carded a career-low, 6-under-par 65 on Thursday and grabbed a 1-stroke, first-round lead at the Marathon Classic.
Walshe mixed eight birdies with a pair of bogeys at Highland Meadows Golf Club to end the opening round a shot ahead of 2008 winner Paula Creamer, Lexi Thompson and Jessica Shepley.
"I've been hitting it probably the best I've hit it in a long time this year," said Walshe, who is seeking her first career LPGA Tour victory. "I've been giving myself a lot of opportunities, and it's frustrating that I haven't been able to really go deep and make some putts. So I think ... the putting was key, and I think that's going to be key for me to really get the rounds going well."
World No. 1 Inbee Park, who has six LPGA Tour victories this season, is two strokes off Walshe's pace at 4-under 67. She is tied for fifth place with Karine Icher, Haeji Kang, Gerina Piller and Jacqui Concolino.
Defending champion So Yeon Ryu carded a 3-under 68. She shares 10th place with eight others.
Walshe, who is ranked 90th in the world, began on the 10th tee and stumbled to a bogey on her opening hole.
It wasn't a sign of things to come.
The Westford, Mass., native parred the 11th, then drained a birdie putt at No. 12, the first of five birdies during an outward 33.
"Actually, coincidentally I 3-putted the first hole and I was like, 'Here we go again,'" said Walshe. "Then 1-putted the next hole and got my confidence going. Made a lot of putts today, so that was pretty key."
Around the turn, Walshe added birdies at Nos. 2 and 4 before tripping to a bogey at the par-4 fifth. She promptly bounced back with a birdie at the sixth, then parred out to secure her first opening-round lead in an LPGA Tour event since joining the circuit in 2010.
"I think the difference for me today was definitely my putting," she Walshe. "I had struggled on it last week and came out here and did a lot of work on it.
"We actually did an article yesterday for somebody on putting coincidentally. So we got to grind on that a bit. We were doing some work for an article that's going to be coming out on putting. Stuff that he went over with me a few months back -- and my putting has improved -- so we got to work on it the last couple days."
NOTES: Walshe's previous low round on the LPGA Tour was 67, which she accomplished twice, most recently at the 2012 Safeway Classic ... Creamer has three top-5 finishes in seven previous appearances at this event, including her 2008 victory ... Temperatures reached 93 degrees on Thursday, with a heat index of 103.