U.S. WOMEN'S OPEN
Smith Continues to Set Pace in Rain-Delayed Round 2
June 1, 2018 | Shoal Creek, Ala.
By Ron Driscoll, USGA
Sarah Jane Smith, who has not won in her 10-year career on the LPGA Tour, put together her second consecutive 5-under-par 67 on Friday to take a four-stroke lead in the weather-delayed Round 2 of the 73rd U.S. Women’s Open Championship at Shoal Creek.
Competing in her seventh Women’s Open, Smith, 33, of Australia, took advantage of the incoming nine for the second straight day. She started her round with a par on No. 10, knocked in consecutive 8-footers for birdies on Nos. 11 and 12, then drained a 42-foot putt on No. 13 on the way to another score of 5-under 31 on Shoal Creek’s incoming nine. She played the front nine in even par both days and leads Su Oh, of Australia, who shot 4-under 68 on Friday to finish 36 holes at 6-under 138, by four strokes.
Ariya Jutanugarn, of Thailand, who shared the first-round lead with Smith and Jeongeun6 Lee, of the Republic of Korea, was also at 6 under through eight holes of her afternoon round. Half of the field, 78 players, had not completed Round 2, while the 77 players in the morning wave completed play. Brooke Henderson, of Canada, who shot 73 on Thursday, withdrew on Friday due to a family matter.
“I feel comfortable on the greens, which has been something that has been a little bit off lately,” said Smith, who had missed the cut in five of her previous six Women’s Open starts. “It’s nice to feel like I’m seeing the greens really well and seeing some putts go in. Hopefully that keeps going.”
Smith got to 11 under for the championship before a three-putt bogey on her 17th hole, the par-3 eighth. Her 10-under score matches Patty Sheehan (1990), Helen Alfredsson (1994), Juli Inkster and Lorie Kane (both 1999) for the low 36-hole total in relation to par in Women’s Open history. All of those players had 134 totals except Alfredsson (132), who was playing a par-71 course.
“I haven’t been in this position before, but I hope to show up like it’s another day,” said Smith of Round 3 on Saturday, which awaits the completion of the suspended Round 2. Smith and her husband-caddie, Duane, had missed five consecutive cuts on the LPGA Tour before a tie for 32nd in last week’s Volvik Championship.
Play was suspended on Friday at 2:27 p.m. CDT for 3 hours, 49 minutes, and players got in just over an hour more of play before the round was suspended for the day. Seven players had completed Round 2 at 3-under 141, including Carlota Ciganda, of Spain, who matched Oh’s Friday round of 68, and two-time Women’s Open champion Inbee Park (2008, 2013).
- Catriona Matthew made an ace on the 154-yard fifth hole, knocking her 8-iron tee shot into the hole on the fly. The ball rattled around the hole and stayed in, marking the fifth consecutive year that at least one player has made a hole-in-one in the Women’s Open. Matthew birdied the next hole, but double bogeyed her final hole of the day, No. 9, to shoot 3-over 75 and is at 5 over through two rounds. Recent aces were made by Giulia Sergas in 2014 at Pinehurst; Lee Lopez in 2015 at Lancaster (Pa.); Lopez again, along with Hee Young Park, in 2016 at CordeValle; and Jacqui Concolino in 2017 at Trump Bedminster.
- The round was suspended for dangerous weather at 2:27 p.m. CDT, for a total of 3 hours, 49 minutes. It resumed at 6:16 p.m., then was suspended for the evening at 7:20 p.m., giving players 64 minutes of play before the final suspension. Round 2 was scheduled to resume at 6:45 a.m. on Saturday.
- Sarah Jane Smith was in a three-way tie for the lead after Round 1, and her 5-under 67 on Friday was the low score among the players who completed Round 2. How rare is it for a player to shoot the lowest score in back-to-back rounds of the Women’s Open? Over the past 20 years, it has only happened on five other occasions, and never in the first and second rounds:
o 2013 – Inbee Park, Rounds 2 and 3
o 2011 – Hee Kyung Seo, Rounds 3 and 4
o 2010 – Paula Creamer, Rounds 2 and 3
o 2004 – Meg Mallon, Rounds 3 and 4
o 2001 – Karrie Webb, Rounds 2 and 3
- Most par breakers (birdies and eagles) through 36 holes (since the 1992 Women’s Open):
o 14 – Mirim Lee (2016)
o 12 – Sarah Jane Smith (2018); Sung Hyun Park (2016); Amy Yang (2015); Inbee Park (2013); Helen Alfredsson (1993)
o 11 – Michelle McGann (1993); Betsy King, Helen Alfredsson (1994); Juli Inkster, Sherri Turner, Lorie Kane (1999); Amy Yang (2016)
Su Oh, of Australia, who shot 68 on Friday but still trails Sarah Jane Smith by four strokes:
“We were looking at the leader board, saying Sarah is very greedy, just taking all the birdies. But because the course is soft, if you hit your irons well and trust that you have good numbers, you can definitely go low. I wasn’t hitting my irons amazing but wasn’t that far off, either. So it’s definitely out there.”
Carlota Ciganda, who tied for fifth in last year’s Women’s Open and shot 4-under 68 on Friday (her 28th birthday), on Smith’s 10-under total:
“I think at the end of the four days not many people will be there because that’s what happens in the U.S. Open. I’m not too worried. I’m just trying to play my game, follow my strategy and try to hit fairways and greens and I think there can be a few good scores but not many.”
Brittany Lincicome, who finished two rounds at 3-over 147 and announced on Friday that she will play in the PGA Tour’s Barbasol Championship in July on a sponsor’s exemption:
“[Barbasol’s] Tom Murray came to me about this opportunity, and I really have actually always wanted to do it. I love competing with the guys. I feel like I step up my game when I play with them. I said, if the Tours think it’s OK and there is really no negative side to it, I guess the worse I could do is miss the cut.”
During the weather delay, two-time U.S. Women’s Open champion Juli Inkster was asked by her Fox Sports 1 broadcast partners how hard it was to defend the title, and the seven-time major champion recalled her attempt in 2000 at the Merit Club in Libertyville, Ill., after winning in 1999.
“I was [in contention] going into the final round and I put up an 80. I went into the locker room mad and disappointed, and I had my daughters with me. One of them asked what was wrong, and I told her Mommy had a bad day at the office. She paused a moment, then asked, ‘Do you mind if I have a cookie?’”
Ron Driscoll is the senior manager of editorial services for the USGA. Email him at email@example.com.