SHOAL CREEK (Alabama) • Mr and Mrs Smith have set the stage for a blockbuster weekend.
With her husband Duane on the bag, Australian Sarah Jane Smith carded a second consecutive five-under 67 to take a four-stroke lead at the US Women's Open as play was interrupted by a weather delay that prevented half the field from completing their second round.
Smith played with a confidence on Friday that belied her recent poor results and a career resume that does not include a single LPGA victory in 222 starts.
The 33-year-old took advantage of benign early conditions to pick up five birdies on her outward half on a rain-softened Shoal Creek course and surge clear of the field.
"I was definitely nervous but not like I've been in the past. I was actually kind of happy with how I handled it a bit more today," the world No. 97, who joined the Tour in 2006, said of leading. "I find the nerves of playing bad are a lot harder to deal with than the nerves of playing good. So I feel like it's different nerves but they were there."
She arrived at Shoal Creek after five missed cuts in six starts. Her best finish this season was a tie for 26th at the Kia Classic.
But, with a 10-under 134 halfway total, she enjoyed a nice buffer over compatriot Su Oh, who eagled the par-four 15th en route to a 68 for six-under 138.
Thailand's Ariya Jutanugarn, who shared the overnight lead with Smith and South Korea's Lee Jeong Eun, was also six under after eight holes. She was among 78 players unable to complete the round following a lightning delay that stretched to nearly four hours.
Lee slipped down the leaderboard with a second-round 75 that left her eight adrift.
Smith could become the second consecutive player to make her first LPGA win a Major after Sweden's Pernilla Lindberg at the ANA Inspiration in April.
Lindberg needed 192 starts to enter the winners' circle. Smith has stayed patient.
"She's not too fussed about what anybody thinks other than family," Duane said of his wife's career in an interview with espnW.
"We've got to travel the world together. It's been amazing. We struggled for the longest time, just sort of breaking even. Then over the last few years she's played really well. And she's built a life for us."
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
US WOMEN'S OPEN
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