by Andrew Spence
The battle for the ISPS HANDA Australian Open title is on in earnest with a dozen players within three shots of the lead at the half way stage of the Royal Adelaide LPGA event.
Aussie Sarah Jane Smith holds a one shot lead at 9-under from a host of chasers including Americans Lizette Salas and Marissa Steen on 8-under.
Salas followed a 5-under opening round with a 3-under 70 today in the South Australian capital.
“I’ve just been playing simple golf – fairway and green,” the Californian, who finished in a tie for 31st at the season opening LPGA tournament in the Bahamas said.
“The past two years I’ve been kind of hoping to get better as the year went on, this year I really wanted to get a good start, knowing it is a Solheim Cup year.
“I’m just really happy where my game is right now.”
Steen followed up on an impressive opening round of 67 with a 2-under 71 in the second round, including an eagle 3 on the 17th
“I got off to a good start and had a couple of hiccups there in the middle but then brought it back at the end, so, I was proud of my finish today,” the world No. 354 said.
Thailand’s Pornanong Phatlum and Sweden’s Caroline Hedwell are also on 8-under.
Michelle Wie is on 5-under after a solid second round and is one of eight Americans in the top 20.
First round leader Katherine Kirk, of Australia, fired a one-over 74 to be two shots from the lead on 7-under.
World No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn and defending champion Haru Nomura are seven shots off the pace on 2-under while world No.1 Lydia Ko and Canadian teenage star Brooke Henderson finished just inside the cut line on even par.
Five time Australian Open Winner Karrie Webb and former world No.1 Laura Davies both missed the cut.