Garland carded rounds of 76 71 at Fulford to finish best of the 16 qualifiers for the match play portion of the championship, which runs over the weekend.
Just three shots behind her was Huddersfield’s Megan Lockett (72 78), the 2015 champion who only relinquished her title on her home course last year when beaten by Garland at the fourth extra hole of their semi-final.
In a further echo of last year at Fixby, third in the stroke play standings yesterday was Malton & Norton’s Emma Brown, losing finalist against Garland.
Garland will get the match play stage underway today against Ganton’s Chloe Stokes, while Lockett goes out last, against Betty Sworowksi (Wath).
Brown’s opponent is Lockett’s club-mate Megan Clarke.
Twelve different clubs are represented in the knockout stages, with Huddersfield and Ganton with three each.
Play begins at 8.30 am and spectators are welcome.