Saturday, February 07, 2009

GOLD COAST, Australia (AP) — Australia's Nikki Campbell, who plays most of her golf in Japan, shot a 7-under 65 on Friday to take a one-stroke lead after two rounds of the ANZ Australian Ladies Masters at Royal Pines.

Campbell had a 10-under total of 134, putting her a shot ahead of fellow Australian Kristie Smith, who had seven straight birdies to start her round and finished with a 62.

``I hit a few bad shots but made a few good recoveries, including chipping in on the 12th,'' said Campbell. ``Putting is the key to playing this course well.''

Another Australian, LPGA Tour regular Katherine Hull, was in third place after a 67, two strokes off the pace.

Smith, the 20-year-old daughter of former Australian touring pro Wayne Smith, one-putted her first seven greens to go 7-under after seven holes. Her 62 improved on her previous best career round of 66 - also at the Royal Pines resort course - in 2005.

``After the sixth one my caddie (Darren Weatherall) and I just looked at each other and laughed,'' Smith said. ``After the seventh one fell, it was like yeah ... a little bit of an out-of-body experience.''

Using a new cross-handed putting grip, she equaled the European Ladies Tour's record of seven successive birdies, two short of American Beth Daniels' world record of nine set in Texas in 1999.

She also equaled the course record set by Karrie Webb in 2007. Webb shot a 73 Friday and was nine strokes back.

Smith had 12 birdies and two bogeys and took just 22 putts for the round.

``The putts just kept rolling in from the first hole,'' said Smith.

Smith's father, who shot 10-under twice during his professional career, had been her caddie until they recently agreed it was time for her to hire someone else.

``It's too hard for her to control her emotions with her dad on the bag,'' Wayne Smith said.

Smith plans to soon head to the United States to play the Futures Tour in a bid to qualify for the LPGA tour.

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