Aussie Smith holds US LPGA lead in Mexico


Australia’s Sarah Jane Smith had five birdies in a four-under-par 68 on Friday to take a two-stroke lead at the halfway point of the LPGA Lorena Ochoa Invitational.

Smith, in search of her first LPGA tour title, who had shared the overnight lead with Spain’s Carlota Ciganda, goes into the weekend with a nine-under total of 135, two shots in front of Mexico’s Gaby Lopez, South Korea’s Hur Mi-Jung and Colombia’s Mariajo Uribe.

“I feel a little bit nervous to be honest,” admitted the Queenslander, who has never taken the lead into the weekend before. “So even a couple times today I was a little nervous, but I was happy with the way that I handled it.

“Hopefully I can just keep doing what I have been doing and see what happens.”

Lopez, playing on her home course at Mexico City’s Club de Golf Mexico, fired a second-round 65 that included an eagle at the par-five second hole, where she stuck her 195-yard second shot two feet from the pin.

“It is one of those numbers when you know you have the number perfect, its just a matter of the swing, adjusting your swing,? said Lopez, who also had six birdies and one bogey.

Uribe had five birdies without a bogey in her 67.

“I just stayed patient today, yesterday I did some stupid mistakes that cost me some bogeys but I went bogey free today and took advantage of the par-fives,” Uribe said.

Hur, a two-time LPGA winner, carded a 66 to climb the leaderboard. She’s trying to break through for her first win of 2016, after runner-up finishes at the America Texas Shootout and Reignwood LPGA Classic.

Smith?s best finish of the season was also at the Reignwood, where she tied for 12th.

The tournament is the penultimate event of the LPGA season and the last chance for players to qualify for next week’s Tour Championship in Naples, Florida.

Canadian teenager Brooke Henderson is the highest-ranked player in the field at seventh in the world. Henderson rebounded slightly from her two-over first round with a 71 on Friday that left her 10 shots off the pace.

© 2016 AFP

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