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Sarah Jane Smith only Australian survivor at Lorena Ochoa Match Play

Sarah Jane Smith (Photo: Bruce Young (file photo))
Australian hopes at the Lorena Ochoa Match Play in Mexico City now rest with Sarah Jane Smith after she was the only one of the three Australians in this week’s 64-player field to advance past the opening round of the inaugural staging of the event’s new format.

Smith defeated Chinese Taipei’s Candie Kung, edging clear in a closely fought match in which there was never more than a one-hole difference either way.

Smith will face China’s Shanshan Feng, the World Number 7, in round two.

Queenslander Katherine Kirk went down in an even closer finish against Canadian star Brooke Henderson, fighting back from a four-hole deficit at the turn to square the match at the 18th before losing to a 40-foot putt for eagle 3 by Henderson at the second extra hole.

It was a scare for Henderson who acknowledged Kirk’s fightback. “She was playing great," the 19-year-old said.

"She made a lot of birdies and hit it close on almost every single hole.

“There was definitely a momentum switch. At the turn, I felt like I had it with me and I was looking to hitting some shots close and closing it out early and then we got a warning and things started to switch for me.”

Su Oh, the only other Australian in the field, was never really in her match against American Danielle Kang, losing 7&6.

Of the more favoured players this week, Lydia Ko, Aria Jutanugarn, Inbee Park, Cristie Kerr, Sung Hyun Park and Suzann Pettersen won their first round encounter, although World Number 4 In Gee Chun lost out to LPGA rookie Laura Gonzales Escallon who has missed five of her last six cuts in LPGA Tour events.

Ko was up against local Ana Menendez and was happy with her win and the way she played. “Ball striking was very good today. I gave myself quite a few looks for birdies and I had quite a few lip-outs. Hopefully I can make a few more birdies tomorrow and that birdie at the last will provide some momentum for tomorrow.

“We had quite a few people following us and playing with a hometown girl I knew it was going to be a tight one. You just never know (in match play), you know, rankings and all that do not matter as much when it comes to match play as it is a case of hole by hole.

“She got a lot of support and that is one of the fun things about playing in your country and I am excited about playing in New Zealand myself in a few months. It is definitely a special experience.“

Jutanugarn had a comfortable win over American Amy Anderson and talked about her more aggressive approach today.

“I feel really good not just because I win my match but I felt good about my commitment today and with my shots. I hit my driver five or six times today – this is match play so if I miss one, it is just one hole and I felt confident with my driver so I just hit it.”

Interestingly, Jutanugarn will face her sister Moriya in round two tomorrow.

PLAYER PROFILE: NELLY KORDA

       

  

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