Sun, Jun 03, 2018 - Page 11 News List

Smith surges to lead at weather-hit US Women’s Open

AFP, MIAMI

Taiwan’s Hsu Wei-ling putts on the seventh green in the second round of the US Women’s Open at Shoal Creek Club in Alabama on Friday.

Photo: John David Mercer-USA TODAY

Australian Sarah Jane Smith on Friday fired a second-round 67 to grab a four-shot clubhouse lead as dangerous weather halted play at the US Women’s Open.

Smith carded her second straight five-under round for a 10-under total of 134 at Shoal Creek in Alabama, where thunderstorms led to extensive delays on a course that had been soaked earlier in the week.

A total of 78 players were unable to complete the second round, which was to resume early yesterday morning.

Fellow Australian Su Oh made it into the clubhouse on six-under 138 after a second-round 68.

Oh said that her effort included “nothing outstanding,” although she putted well and dealt calmly with the challenges presented by the soggy course.

“It’s weird, because it’s playing longer because it’s so soft, but it’s hot, so the irons are going really far,” said Oh, adding that she was also constantly on the lookout for mud that might affect the flight of her ball.

Smith had shared the overnight lead with Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn and South Korea’s Lee Jeong-eun (6) — who uses the numerical designator “6” with her name to distinguish her from five other South Korean professionals with the same name.

Ariya had birdied her first hole and was six-under for the tournament through eight holes when play was halted for the day.

Lee slipped down the leaderboard with a second-round 75 that left her eight adrift.

Smith, 33, is hoping for a breakthrough victory, despite lackluster results so far in a season in which her best finish was a tie for 26th at the Kia Classic.

“I was definitely nervous, but not like I’ve been in the past,” Smith said of heading out early with a share of the lead. “I was actually kind of happy with how I handled it a bit more today.”

Smith teed off on 10 and promptly birdied the 11th, 12th and 13th holes. She nabbed two more birdies before the turn and another at the par-five third before her only bogey of the day, a three-putt at eight.

Smith said a switch back to her old irons, a reversion to a conventional putting grip and advice from coach Sean Foley — who basically told her to just stick with it — had helped her pull her game together.

Taiwan’s Hsu Wei-ling carded a one-over 73 to finish tied for 22nd on even-par, while Chien Pei-yun’s five-over 77 saw her fall to a share of 97th with Kaohsiung-born Candie Kung of the US, who was one-over after five holes before play was halted.

Additional reporting by staff writer

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