[PHOTO: Warren Little/Getty Images]

Australian Grace Kim overcame two early bogeys to play her way into contention at the AIG Women’s Open at Walton Heath Golf Club in London.

Kim and fellow New South Wales tour pro Sarah Kemp finished the opening round one-under par and in a tie for 19th, just three strokes behind the leader, American Ally Ewing.

Ewing, chasing her first major title, posted five birdies in an up-and-down round before launching to the top of the leaderboard with an eagle at the par-5 16th.

A three-time winner on the LPGA Tour, Ewing’s best finish in the AIG Women’s Open is a tie for 16th in 2017, and she impressed in the idyllic conditions over the heathland to claim the early advantage among the 144-player field.

The six-strong Aussie contingent all ensured they would enter today’s second round with championship aspirations intact.

World No.10 Minjee Lee was prominent on the leaderboard early, but had a bogey and double-bogey along with two birdies in her final four holes for a round of even-par 72 and share of 33rd.

With dropped shots at the first and fifth, it was a less than ideal start for Kim, yet the 22-year-old underlined her immense talent with a tremendous fightback on the next 13 holes. It started with a birdie at the par-5 sixth, which she backed up with another at the par-4 seventh to get back to even-par.

Kim moved into red figures with a third birdie at the par-5 11th and then parred her way in to sit just inside the top 20 through 18 holes.

Notching a top-10 result last week at the Freed Group Scottish Open, Kemp posted five birdies and four bogeys to also post 71. A bogey at the second hole – the hardest hole on the golf course in round one – was countered by birdies at the sixth and seventh before a fluctuating start to the back nine. Bogeys at 10, 11 and 13 were offset by birdies at 12, 14 and 15, three pars to finish marking a solid start to her championship.

One behind Lee, three Aussies are in a tie for 60th after rounds of one-over 73.

Making her major championship debut and playing in the final group of the opening round, Kelsey Bennett surged inside the top 20 with three straight birdies after making the turn.

One of five players to survive a 13-for-5 playoff at final qualifying on Monday, Bennett dropped shots at the 13th and 15th, picked up another birdie at the 16th but bogeyed the last to end the day over par.

She is level with Steph Kyriacou and Hannah Green in a bunched leaderboard, Green ending her day with consecutive bogeys while Kyriacou fought back after early bogeys at the second and third holes to sit only five shots off the lead.