Photo courtesy of Golf Australia
Queenslander Sarah Jane Smith shot a superb second round 6 under par 67 at Royal Adelaide Golf Club today to take a one shot lead into the final 36 holes of the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open.
The 32-year-old, who plays the majority of her golf on the USLPGA Tour is in her twelfth season as a professional and remains in search of her first major victory, after winning two events on the LPGA’s Developmental Tour (Futures Tour) early in her professional career
The laid back Orlando resident is coming off her best-ever season on the LPGA Tour in 2016, where she recorded a career-equalling best finish at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational finishing in second place.
Smith, who has her husband Duane on the bag as her full-time caddy came into this event in good form after a second place finish at the ALPG Tour’s opening event of 2017, the RACV Gold Coast Challenge
”The RACV was a special week because I actually ended up playing with my dad in the first two days. He hasn’t played in 15 years, so it was a fun first couple of days and then to have a nice day on the weekend was good too”
Smith also admitted to having some local knowledge of the Royal Adelaide layout, having played the interstate series there as an amateur,
“Yeah, I’ve actually played a lot of golf here. We had our interstate series here; I have to admit 15 years ago, but we played 36 holes five days in a row, so I’ve played a lot of golf on this course, but I love the layout. It’s in immaculate condition.”
When asked about recently going back to working with her old swing coach Sean Foley Smith admitted that she had learned a lot about her game and her golf swing in recent years,
”I think he’s really made me understand my golf swing. I've always really hit the ball well with him but I’ve found that I needed a lot of attention before and then when he started working with Tiger, I didn’t get to see him. I think the time away from him was almost a good thing, it sort of made me learn a little bit and then coming back to him, he’s made things really simple and I’m able to understand a little bit more what I’m doing, I think”
After a solid 2016 season Smith feels that she is finally starting to get to a point where her game was all coming together.
“ It’s really good. It’s funny how things progress. I had a terrible 2015, basically only kept my card through my short game and that’s not been the case ever before for me. So, now that I’m getting everything together at once it’s translating into better scores"
When asked what it would mean to win her national championship the ever humble Smith admitted it would be a challenge just to focus on playing her own game and not dream about what could happen on Sunday afternoon.
“ 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. 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”
Smith said that she would attempt to learn from her experiences last year and try to stay as composed as possible the next two days,
“I think I’ve just got control my nerves. I was in contention in Mexico at the end of the year and Saturday kind of got the best of me. I managed to get out of the round but I think shot even a 1-under, but it was a struggle. I actually said to Duane on the last hole, I said, “Get me out of here”, I wanted to get off the golf course and settle down for a little bit. But Sunday I felt like I learned from it and kind of relaxed a little more and had a good day, so I’m hoping that I’ve learned from that and can relax a little bit and continue doing what I’ve been doing.”
” Last year to have kind of a consistent year from start to finish was really good for me. It’s definitely made me believe that even though now I’m kind of old compared to everybody else, that there still might be hope for me yet”
In second place a shot back are Marissa Steen and Lizette Salas from the United States, Pornanong Phatlum of Thailand and Swede Caroline Hedwall.
Felllow Queenslander and first-round leader Katherine Hull is a further shot back in a tie for fifth after a disappointing double bogey at her 17th hole saw her slip back to card a one-over 74 to be 7 under par.
West Australian rookie Hannah Green is tied for 9th place at 6 under par, while New South Welshwoman Rebecca Artis is tied for 13th place at 5 under par.
Veteran Karrie Webb (even today, three-over for the tournament) missed the cut for the first time ever in an Australian Open.
World No. 1 Lydia Ko made the cut on the number at even par.
LIVE SCORES: http://www.womensausopen.com/scores