Alison Walshe put herself in prime position at the Marathon Classic for her first LPGA Tour victory.
But, as the name of the tournament implies, the race has just begun.
Walshe shot a 6-under-par 65, her best score in her four years on the LPGA Tour, to take a one-stroke lead Thursday in the opening round of the tournament formerly known as the Jamie Farr Toledo Classic at Sylvania, Ohio.
Also daunting is the who’s who of stars on her heels. Paula Creamer, who won the tournament five years ago, and top-ranked Inbee Park, winner of the year’s first three major championships, were within two shots.
Walshe, the former Westford Academy standout, is among the top 20 on tour in putting stats but got off to a tough start when she three-putted the first hole for bogey — then took only 19 putts on the next 17 holes.
‘‘I was like, ‘Here we go again,’ ’’ Walshe said. ‘‘Then I one-putted the next hole and got my confidence going.’’
She also chipped in for birdie on the 14th hole, her fifth of the day, to jump-start her round.
Walshe came into the Marathon, in its first year under its new title sponsor, quietly. She hasn’t had a top 10 this year and ranks 55th on the money list with earnings of just over $120,000.
She hasn’t finished higher than a tie for 17th at Kingsmill. Her career best is a tie for eighth a year ago at the Kraft Nabisco.
‘‘I’ve been hitting it probably the best I’ve hit it in a long time this year,’’ said Walshe.
Everybody in the 144-player field was tormented by temperatures in the 90s, high humidity, little wind and a glaring sun. Teenager Lexi Thompson, who was tied with Canada’s Jessica Shepley and Creamer at 66, said after her round that she drank a bottle of water per hole to stay hydrated.
Walshe benefited from an early tee time, but it wasn’t as if it was cool then, either.
‘‘At 7 in the morning I was sweating and I’m sweating now,’’ she said after finishing around 1 p.m.
Park shot a 67 that left her tied with Haeji Kang, Jacqui Concolino, Gerina Piller, and Karine Icher. Defending champ So Yeon Ryu had a 68 along with a large group that included Morgan Pressel and Natalie Gulbis.
PGA — Daniel Summerhays rebounded from a disappointing finish last week to take the lead in the rain-delayed first round of the Sanderson Farms Championship at Madison, Miss.
Four days after squandering the final-round lead in the John Deere Classic, Summerhays shot a 9-under 63 to open a three-stroke lead. He had an eagle and seven birdies in a bogey-free round at Annandale Golf Club.
Will Claxton, Michael Bradley, and Jonathan Randolph shot 66. The entire afternoon group was unable to finish because of storms.