Queensland Sarah Jane Smith followed up her remarkable opening round with a solid two-under-par and continues to set the pace at the Oates Victorian Open at the Thirteenth Beach Golf Links.
The 29-year-old is chasing her first ALPG title and has never been in such a commanding position heading into the week-end. However, it won’t be easy as Western Australian amateur Minjee Lee is challenging for the third straight week for a professional title.
Smith sits atop of the leaderboard on seven-under-par, with Lee (70) three shots back. Once again the wind was up at Thirteenth Beach and conditions were challenging for everyone. Only two other players are in red numbers, ACT’s Nikki Campbell (67) and American Hannah Jun (72), they are both at one-under-par and share third position.
Defending champion and local favourite Stacey Keating (74) is outright fifth at even par, while Canadian Lorie Kane (74), South Australian Stephanie Na (72), Queensland’s Ashley Ona (70) and Victorian Lindsey Wright (76) are at one-over-par and tied for sixth.
A further shot back are three very experienced players and they are certainly not out of it, England’s pair of Laura Davies and Trish Johnson and Swede Sophie Gustafson. Between the three of them they have won over 110 titles worldwide.
Playing on the Creek course today, Smith carded five birdies and three bogeys. Even though she didn’t match her score from round one, she was pleased with her efforts pointing out she thought the Creek Course played tougher than the Beach course.
“It was good, I think that side (Creek course) played a little tougher, it was more exposed to the wind compared to the Beach Course. Set up wise, I think Beach course is tougher.”
“I felt like I still played really well, but kept running putts by the edge or not getting to the hole.”
While the blustery winds wreaked havoc on scores during the opening two rounds, Nikki Campbell went from shooting 79 in round one to 67 on Friday, a massive 12 shot swing to jump up the leaderboard and into contention.
When asked what was the difference she explained, “I hit the ball well yesterday, but my bunker shots and putting were horrendous. I walked off the course yesterday and stood on the putting green and I thought I don’t know what to do. I tried to hit some putts out of the toe as I was hitting out of the heel a lot.”
She putted for 15 minutes as she didn’t really know what to work on and went home with the attitude “I just thought Friday will be a new day and I’ll see what happens.” It worked.
If the strong gusty winds continue over the week-end, that combined with the challenging Beach Course layout, anyone within 10 is in with a chance.
66 players will contest the final two rounds for their share of the $150,000 purse.
Visit www.golfvic.org.au for draws and all the latest news and tournament updates.
By: Sandy Lonergan (ALPG Media)