Aussie Sarah Jane Smith takes one-shot lead in Australian Open

By The Sports Xchange   |   Feb. 17, 2017 at 12:33 PM

Sarah Jane Smith moved into position to win in her home country after shooting a 6-under 67 on Friday to take a one-stroke lead in the second round of the Women's Australian Open in Adelaide, Australia.

The 32-year-old Smith sits atop a packed leaderboard at 9-under 137 played in windy afternoon conditions at Royal Adelaide Golf Club.

American Lizette Salas shot a 70 to move into a four-way tie for second, joining Pornanong Phatlum (70) of Thailand, American Marissa Steen (71) and Sweden's Caroline Hewwall (69).

There are 18 players within four shots of the lead.

Smith, the No. 107 player in the Rolex Rankings with only six career top-10 finishes, is seeking her first win on the LPGA Tour. She made three consecutive birdies on the front nine and finished with six on the day.

"I'd be lying if I said I didn't think about it but obviously that's not the main focus of the next two days," Smith said of trying to win her national championship. "I mean, obviously, it would be a dream come true and something I think every young Australian thinks about at some point. So, to even be in a position right now is pretty exciting."

First-round leader Katherine Kirk of Australian was in a late share of the lead until she double-bogeyed her second to last hole of the day at No. 8. She was two strokes off the lead in a tie for sixth after a 74.

American Michelle Wie shot a 71 and was at 5-under, four behind Smith. Wie told reporters she woke up with a stiff back on Friday morning and was dealing with back spasms throughout the day. Her round was highlighted by an eagle on the par-4 No. 1 where she holed out from 86 yards with a lob wedge.

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

Salas, a two-time Solheim Cup veteran, hopes to make it onto her third U.S. roster at the biennial team match play event this August. Salas is currently 24th in the USA Solheim Cup points standings, but "feels like she's in a good place right now" with her game.

''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.''

World No. 1 Lydia Ko of New Zealand shot a 75 to just make the cut line at even par. No. 2-ranked Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand, the LPGA's player of the year and a five-time winner in 2016, shot a second consecutive 72 and was in a tie for 39th at 2 under.

Five-time champion Karrie Webb of Australia missed the cut for the first time in 21 starts at the Australian Open. She shot a 73 after an opening 76.

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