6/2/2018 11:27:23 AM

Aussie Smith surges to lead in weather-hit US Women's Open

Aussie Smith surges to lead in weather-hit US Women

Miami, USA: Australian Sarah Jane Smith fired a second-round 67 to grab a four-shot clubhouse lead as dangerous weather halted play at the US Women's Open in Alabama on Friday.

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

Seventy-eight players were unable to complete the second round, which was to resume early Saturday morning.

Smith's fellow Australian Su Oh made it into the clubhouse on six-under 138 after a second-round 68.

Oh said  her effort included "nothing outstanding" although she putted well and dealt calmly with the challenges of 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, who said 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 -- who uses the numerical designator "6" with her name to distinguish her from five other Korean pros with the same name.

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

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

Smith, 33, is hoping for a breakthrough victory despite lacklustre 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 11, 12 and 13. 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.

"I just felt really easy," said Smith, who is seeking a first win since joining the tour in 2006.

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.

Now she'll just try to stay on an even keel throughout the weekend.

"I hope to show up like it's another day," said Smith, whose husband, Duane, is her caddie. "I'm happy with the way I'm playing. I feel comfortable on the greens which has been something that has been a little bit off. So it's nice to feel like I'm seeing the greens really well and seeing some putts go in. Hopefully that keeps going."

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