Smith highlights delayed 2nd round of U.S. Women’s Open

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

NORTH SHELBY – An almost flawless round of golf from first-round co-leader Sarah Jane Smith set the tone early for a rain-delayed round two at the 73rd U.S. Women’s Open on Friday, June 1, at Shoal Creek Club.

Smith, who entered the day in a tie for the lead with Ariya Jutanugarn and Jeongeun6 Lee at 5-under par, but thanks to three birdies in a row to kick start her round, Smith stormed up the leaderboard by herself in the morning thanks to a second-round 67, which put her at 10-under to end her day.

“It just felt really easy today,” Smith said. “It was strange, the front nine. I was sort of holing a lot of putts. I didn’t hit a great shot into 13, and then holed maybe a 40-footer for birdie there. It was just like the front nine felt really nice.”

She went on to shoot a 31 on the back nine (Her front nine) for the second consecutive day after adding birdies on 16 and 17 as well.

Her back nine, the front side, featured a consistent effort of even par 36 after one birdie, one bogey and seven pars.

“I felt like I played really well,” she said. “I hit a couple squirrelly shots in the middle, but made some nice up-and-downs.”

Smith’s round was the highlight of what became a difficult afternoon faced with delays.

At 2:27 p.m., play was temporarily suspended and a delay of close to four hours ensued before play resumed at 6:15 p.m. with several golfers looking to make a move up the leaderboard.

One of those golfers looking to try and catch Smith was Jutanugarn, who shared the lead coming into the day, but found herself five shots off the pace at the start of her second round.

Jutanugarn was only able to complete eight holes before play was suspended for the day, but she was able to tack on one birdie to get within four shots of Smith’s lead. That birdie came on the first hole of the afternoon before the original delay and before play was called for the night.

Tied for second with Jutanugarn for the time being is Su-Hyun Oh, who shot a 4-under par round of 68 in round two.

Oh’s round featured just one bogey, while she posted three birdies and one eagle on the par-4 15th thanks to a hole out on the 363-yard hole.

“I putted quite well today,” she said after her round. “I think it’s special. I kind of hung in there and just took my chances and just didn’t make a lot of mistakes.”

Everybody else in the top five aside from Jutanugarn finished their second round and sit in a tie for fourth at 3-under par.

One of those players is amateur Linn Grant, who at one point had gotten it to 5-under, but two bogeys early on the back nine dropped her back.

“I wanted to see how the other players play and to compare my own game to theirs,” Grant said. “And today was a tougher day for me, but I feel like I can get some good scores to end with.”

One thing is certain, Grant has shown through two rounds that she has the composure and fight to be in contention for a major championship.

Other players at the 3-under number include world No. 1 Inbee Park Chella Choi, Jenny Shin, Sei Young Kim, Carlota Ciganda and Jihyune Kim.

At 2-under sit several players, including four that have yet to finish their second rounds. Two of those players are amateurs Patty Tavatanakit and Kristen Gillman (Alabama), while another is popular American name Michelle Wie.

There are a few others at 1-under and currently nine off the lead who have also yet to finish their rounds.

One of those players is popular American and third ranked player in the world Lexi Thompson.

Her group featuring Wie and Jessica Korda is through seven holes and will pick back up in the morning before a cut is made and the third round picks up.

Right now, the conclusion of the second round is expected to start at 6:45 a.m. on Saturday, June 2, as a total of 78 players did not finish round two, most of which still have at least nine holes to play.

At the conclusion of the second round, a cut will be made with the top 60 players, including ties, making the cut. Third round play will then begin tomorrow morning at the conclusion of round two as soon as pairings are set and the course is set up to the USGA’s liking.