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Sarah-Jane Smith moves clear at Shoal Creek

Smith holds the second round lead but will she be challenged by Jutanugarn? (Photo: USGA)
Australia's Sarah Jane Smith has added a second consecutive round of 67 at the US Women's Open at Shoal Creek in Birmingham in Alabama and takes a four shot lead into day three although several of the 78 players still on the golf course when play was finally stopped for the day as a result of dangerous weather could impact that lead.

It was the second of two weather disruptions throughout day two the field to return at 6.45am on Saturday local time to complete their rounds.  

Smith is clear of her fellow Australian Su Oh and Ariya Jutanugarn although Jutanugarn still has eight holes to play when she returns on Saturday morning to complete round two. 

After two very good LPGA Tour seasons in 2016 and 2017, Smith appeared to have lost her way in 2018 but a decision to revert back to her previous set of clubs appears to be paying dividends.

"Yeah. So my went back to my old clubs I have been using for a couple of years, I guess," said Smith. "I have got PING irons, TaylorMade driver, PING hybrids. Then I actually put a Callaway 3-wood in last week which has been really good.

"The clubs I had switched to after ANA, they were great, I felt good about them. I think I rushed putting them in. It was a short week after ANA before Hawaii. I like to hit a lot of little shots on the golf course, whether it's chip shots, three-quarter shots, and I just had no control over how far I was hitting it." 

"I think they could have been really good if I had taken the time to do it in the offseason. I felt like it was good change at the time, but turns out it wasn't. I flew home after San Francisco and missed the cut there. Picked up my old clubs to take to Texas.

Smith works with coach Sean Foley formerly of Tiger Woods fame and Smith is aware of the impact he has as a technical coach and motivator.

"Sean is in constant contact. We send videos and that, but there's something about in person that he seems to get a pretty good gist of what's going on even on the golf course. So we had a really good lesson before Kingsmill and then I actually missed the cut in Kingsmill, but felt like I played really well.

"I sent him a text message on Sunday and I said, I don't know what I'm doing. I'm playing well, and it's just not sort of coming together. I said, is there a book or something I can read? He's pretty -- he always has a good thing to say to keep you on track.

"He called me on Monday. And he's like, there is no book, you idiot. Keep showing up, it's going to turn around. He just kind of set me straight."

Smith is clear of fellow Australian Su Oh whose form in recent weeks has improved significantly.

"I've kind of been playing a little bit better since San Francisco so it's just been like gradually a little bit getting better," said Oh who finished 4th at her last start in Michigan.

Jutanugarn looms as arguably the biggest threat to Smith's 36 hole lead, the Thai golfer and former World Number One still with 10 holes to play and the chance in early morning conditions on day three when returning to finish round two to close in on Smith's lead.

The large group in 4th place, albeit three shots from the current tie for 2nd place includes the two time US Women's Open Champion Inbee Park.

Of the other Australians in the field Minjee Lee is at 2 over through just six holes of her second round after two bogeys on day two. Karrie Webb and Katherine Kirk are on the cut-line of 4 over but have several holes to play tomorrow morning to move either way, amateur Robyn Choi is at 6 over and finished and appears to be missing the cut and Sarah Kemp also has holes to play but is at 10 over.

New Zealander Lydia Ko struggled to a round of 77 and is currently on the cut-line.   








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