Aus­tralian takes half­way lead at Aus­tralian Open

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Sarah Jane Smith shot a 6-un­der 67 in tough, windy af­ter­noon con­di­tions Fri­day at Royal Ade­laide to take a one-stroke lead after two rounds of the Women’s Aus­tralian Open.

The Aus­tralian had a 36-hole to­tal of 9-un­der 137.

Amer­i­can Lizette Salas shot 70 to move into a four-way tie for sec­ond. She was joined by Por­nanong Phatlum of Thai­land, who also shot 70, Marissa Steen of the United States, who had a 71, and Swe­den’s Caroline Hewwall, who birdied her fi­nal three holes for a 69.

“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think about it,” Smith said of her chance to win her na­tional cham­pi­onship. “Ob­vi­ously, it would be a dream come true and some­thing that every young Aus­tralian thinks about at some point. So to even be in this po­si­tion right now is pretty ex­cit­ing. I just need to con­trol my nerves.”

First-round leader Kather­ine Kirk was in a late share of the lead un­til she dou­ble-bo­geyed the eighth hole, her sec­ond-last of the day. She was two strokes off the lead in a tie for sixth after a 74.

Maude-Aimee Leblanc of Sher­brooke, Que., had one of the best rounds of the day, a 68 that left her tied with Kirk at 7-un­der. Brooke Hen­der­son of Smiths Falls, Ont., shot 77 and was at even par, as was No. 1-ranked Ly­dia Ko of New Zea- land after a 75.

Alena Sharp of Hamil­ton fired a 69 and was tied for ninth while Jen­nifer Ha of Calgary carded a 78 and failed to make the cut for the third round.

Salas said she re­cov­ered well dur­ing her round.

“I would be in trou­ble or miss an up-and-down, on the next hole I’d come right back with birdie,” she said. “I gave my­self a lot of op­por­tu­ni­ties for birdie and I’d miss them on the high side, so that’s some­thing that I could work on the putting green.”

Salas says she’s “in a good place right now” as she looks for­ward to pos­si­bly rep­re­sent­ing the U.S. at the Sol­heim Cup.

“The past two years I’ve been kind of hop­ing to get bet­ter as the year went on,” Salas said. “This year I re­ally wanted to get a good start. Know­ing it is a Sol­heim Cup year, so every tour­na­ment does count and I lit­er­ally took no time off dur­ing the off sea­son. It is a huge goal.”

Michelle Wie shot 71 and was at 5un­der, four be­hind Smith. Wie had to over­come back spasms for most of her round, which started with a dou­ble-bo­gey.

“It was pretty bad out there but hope­fully to the physio and get it bet­ter for this week­end,” Wie said.

Five-time cham­pion Kar­rie Webb shot 73 after an open­ing 76 and missed qual­i­fy­ing.

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