Smith grabs halfway lead as Ko struggles
Sarah Jane Smith seized the outright lead at the Australian Women's Open as world No 1 Lydia Ko scraped past the cut on Friday.
Florida-based Smith, 32, carded a six-under 67 to lead an overseas quartet of Thailand's Pornanong Phatlum, Americans Lizette Salas and Marissa Steen along with Sweden's Caroline Hedwall by one stroke after 36 holes of the USLPGA-APLG co-sanctioned event.
But it was a tough day for Ko, looking out of sorts with her new clubs, new coach and new caddie, as she made the cut by one shot and is nine shots from the lead.
The New Zealand star, who has held the top ranking for 69 consecutive weeks, had an up-and-down round of four birdies and six bogeys.
Australia's Smith hit the front with a tap-in birdie at the par-five 17th and by the time she teed off at the 18th, news filtered through that overnight leader Katherine Kirk had dropped another shot to finish the round and lie two shots off the pace.
Smith went down the last fairway and almost chipped in for birdie, eventually tapping in to finish with six birdies.
Kirk, who faded late with a double bogey at her 17th, held the outright lead at several points of the day before dropping back but was still right in contention.
Thailand's world No 2 Ariya Jutanugarn, who had five wins on the LPGA Tour last year, also has some work to do at two under, while South Korea's Jang Ha-Na at three-under is still in the mix.
Canada's Brook Henderson, the world No 8, needed to make a putt of more than a metre for bogey at the 18th to make the cut.
Smith admitted she would be thinking about the winning the tournament, even though there are two days to go.
"I'd be lying if I (said I) didn't think about but obviously that's not the main focus over the next two days," Smith said.
"But obviously it'd be a dream come true and something I think every young Australian thinks about at some point. So to be even in a position right now, it's very exciting."
Australia's record five-time champion Karrie Webb, 42, missed the cut for the first time in her illustrious Australian Open history, finishing at three-over.
"It hurts to miss any cut and I don’t like that at all," Webb said. "It’s not the start I was looking for this year, but it’s a long year."
LEADING SECOND ROUND SCORES
137 - Sarah Jane Smith (AUS) 70-67
138 - Pornanong Phatlum (THA) 68-70, Lizette Salas (USA) 68-70, Marissa Steen (USA) 67-71, Caroline Hedwall (SWE) 69-69
139 - Min Lee (TPE) 67-72, Maude-Aimee Leblanc (CAN) 71-68, Katherine Kirk (AUS) 65-74
140 - Alena Sharp (CAN) 71-69, Amy Boulden (WAL) 72-68, Hannah Green (AUS) 69-71, Xi Yu Lin (CHN) 70-70
141 - Michelle Wie (USA) 70-71, Rebecca Artis (AUS) 71-70, Jodi Ewart Shadoff (ENG) 70-71, Celine Herbin (FRA) 72-69, Chella Choi (KOR) 67-74, Nanna Madsen (DEN) 73-68, Ally McDonald (USA) 69-72
142 - Gemma Dryburgh (SCO) 73-69, Minjee Lee (AUS) 72-70, Lindy Duncan (USA) 69-73, Nasa Hataoka (JPN) 74-68, Sherman Santiwiwatthanaphong (THA) 71-71, Michele Thomson (SCO) 68-74, Lee Mi-Hyang (KOR) 73-69, Mo Martin (USA) 71-71, Marina Alex (USA) 69-73, Carlota Ciganda (ESP) 71-71, Beth Allen (USA) 71-71
144 - Ariya Jutanugarn (THA) 72-72
146 - Brooke Henderson (CAN) 69-77, Lydia Ko (NZL) 71-75