Queensland Sarah Jane Smith is just three off the lead heading into the second round of the Blue Bay LPGA event being played on the beautiful Hainan Island, China.
Smith posted a three-under-par 69 on the Jian Lake Blue Bay Golf Course. Smith went out in two-under-par after recording birdies on the 2nd and 8th holes another three birdies were mixed with two bogeys to come home in one-under-par.
The Aussie is chasing American Jessica Korda who posted a bogey-free 6-under 66 on Thursday to take the first-round lead. A group of six players are tied for second and trail Korda by one shot including Rolex Ranked World No. 5 Shanshan Feng, Americans Michelle Wie and Brittany Lang and South African Lee-Anne Pace. Another six players are a just two shots back.
Korda got off to a blazing start with birdies on her first three holes and made the turn in 31.
“It was really nice. I was hitting the ball pretty good and then I made some long putts, as well, off the green,” said Korda. “I guess the putter was just hot on the front nine, so I took advantage of it.”
The highlight of the round for the 21-year old came on the par-4 10th hole when she sank a 65-foot par putt to stay at 5-under par.
“Highlight was No. 10. Hit my drive way out right. Didn’t hit in the fairway,” said Korda.
“Then didn’t have the right club. And the wind took it and I made the putt from across the whole green, from the back of the green to the front of the green, it was like from back to front, about 60 feet.”
Korda’s lead marks just the second time in her career that she’s held the first-round lead. The last time came last year at the Reignwood LPGA Classic in Bejing where she went on to finish T15. The fourth-year LPGA Tour member is playing for her fourth career title and third of the 2014 season.
The top-ranked player in the field, is Rolex Word No. 3 Lydia Ko, finished with a 2-under 69 and trails the lead by three shots.
Fellow Queenslander, Katherine Kirk, is the only other Australian in the US$2.0m limited field event. Kirk fired an even par round of 72 to be in a share of 44th place. Kirk had a very adventurous round, she started with a birdie on the 2nd, which was follow up six straight pars before a triple bogey on the par 4 9th. Starting her back nine at two-over, the multiple LPGA winner hit back with four birdies in the next six holes to get it back to two-under. However, back-to-back bogeys on the 16th and 17th holes saw her finish the day even par.