Darling, the Girls’ Amateur champion from Broomieknowe in Bonnyrigg, opened with a one-over-par 73 at Champions Retreat Golf Club to lie joint-ninth, just three shots behind the pacesetters, Italy’s Benedetta Moresco and Anna Davis of the US.
On a day when she joined Duncan in becoming the first Scots to tee up in the event, Darling had an adventurous round, signing for a card that contained five birdies but also two double-bogeys and two bogeys.
The second of her double-bogeys came at the par-5 18th, having earlier made gains at the first, ninth, 11th, 15th and 16th holes.
Duncan, the Women’s Amateur champion from West Kilbride, sits joint-59th in the battle to be in the top 30 after two rounds and progress to Saturday’s final circuit at Augusta National.
The Stirling University student made an eagle-2 at the 15th, but that came after she’d run up two 7s, including a triple-bogey at the fourth.
In an event featuring players from 24 countries, Moresco and 16-year-old Davis signed for matching two-under-par 70s to lead the way.
Moresco, No 20 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR), birdied the second from close range before rolling in a 15-footer at the next to reach the turn in two-under.
The University of Alabama sophomore was then bogey-free coming home to share the lead in her second appearance at the Augusta National Women’s Amateur.
“It was good out there today. I had really good putts from all around the green,” Moresco said. “Being patient on the golf course. I think that was key.”
Playing in the last group of the day, Davis made the turn at one under par after a birdie the seventh before making a second gain at the 14th.
She dropped her only shot of the day at the next hole but finished with a birdie after her 30-foot chip hit the flagstick and stopped inches from the hole.
“Usually when I go to events, I know the people who are playing and I don’t know a lot of the girls here,” said Californian Davis, one of the youngest players in the field. “I feel like an underdog here. There’s not as much pressure on you.”
Another American, Hailey Borja, is tied for tnird on 71 with Ingrid Lindblad of Sweden and China’s Xiaowen Yin.
Three players - Alexandra Forsterling of Germany, American Latanna Stone and China’s Liqi Zeng - are tied for sixth on level-par.