Date: June 01, 2018
Author: Martin Blake

Smith grabs Major lead

Australia's Sarah Jane Smith has seized a share of the first-round lead at the US Women's Open at Shoal Creek in Alabama.

The 33-year-old from the Sunshine Coast via Geelong made a brilliant closing stretch including a hole-out eagle with a wedge at the par-five 11th and further birdies from close range at the 13th, a bomb at the 14th and another nice putt at the 17th to card a five-under par 67 in round one.

After a brilliant back-nine of 31, she shares the lead with Thailand's Ariya Jutanugarn and South Korea's Jeongeun Lee.

Victorian Su Oh also started nicely, following her top-five finish from last week with an opening 70 to be tied-seventh.

Ironically Smith, a 14-year professional and ranked 97th in the world, had missed the cut at four of her most recent five starts in the lead-in. Despite consistent performances on the LPGA Tour since 2008, she has never won a tournament.

"The last few weeks have been pretty rough," she said. "So it's nice to get a good start to a tournament. That's been the problem, digging myself a hole from the very beginning."

World No. 8 Minjee Lee from Perth began with an even-par 72 on a course sodden from a couple of days of rain.