Date: November 13, 2016
Author: Mark Hayes

Smith beats butterflies, stays in mix

Sometimes scrambling well can be as important as flushing it.

That’s the lesson Sarah Jane Smith took from the Lorena Ochoa Invitational in Mexico today when she had the day she feared, but stayed well in contention for her maiden LPGA Tour title.

After starting the third round with a two-stroke lead at nine under, the Queenslander couldn’t find the magic she’d shown in the opening rounds.

But after a couple of mid-round bogeys threatened to derail her week, Smith answered the challenge with great hands to save several important pars.

A birdie on the par-five 17th then enabled her to shoot even-par 72, good enough to book a spot in the final group alongside good friend Carlota Ciganda (68), both of whom trail American Austin Ernst (67) by a shot.

Victorian Su Oh also remains in contention after a third consecutive 70 left her T8 at six under.

But it was Smith, who hasn’t missed a cut since mid-April, who admitted she felt the nerves of the situation.

“It was nice to have a day like today where it wasn’t very good and I kind of scrambled,” she said.

 “Obviously, I was pretty nervous most of the day (because) it was a position I’ve never been in before.

“I wouldn’t say I handle it well, but I scrambled well, so that should give me some confidence for tomorrow, even if it is not perfect it would still be OK.”

Smith said she still felt confident and in a good position heading into the final round.

“I love the golf course, so hopefully tomorrow I’ll get out there and relax a little more, sway some better shots,” she said.

 “I enjoyed it still, but I had a few moments where my heart was going a little faster than it should have been, but I still enjoyed it.

“But I am kind of happy to be off the course for now and regroup, hit a few balls and then be ready for tomorrow.”