The Foley effect

KEN WIEBE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:41 AM ET

Sarah Jane Smith quickly went from nearly being out of the competition to surging right into the heart of the action.

Smith was nearly felled by a falling branch on the 11th hole Thursday but survived the scare and heated up on Friday, cruising to a 6-under 66 to tie for the low round of the day at the 2010 CN Canadian Women’s Open at St. Charles Country Club.

“I had a good chat with my coach about my swing,” said Smith, who sits 66th on the LPGA Tour money list with $73,875 through nine events. “I was hitting it everywhere and usually I hit my driver pretty straight. I was all over the place. My stats said seven fairways but I think they were being generous. I was a little out of synch. (Friday) was much better.”

Thanks to the beauty of technology, Smith was able to have some video of her swing shot and sent it to her coach, Canadian swing guru Sean Foley, who offered some analysis on Thursday night.

Smith came to the course with a much better vibe on Friday and that came through during her round, which included an eagle, five birdies, one lone bogey and 11 pars.

“The greens are awesome, they’re rolling so pure,” said Smith, who needed only 10 putts on her back nine, a 6-under 30. “The longest one was on five for eagle, that one was 25 or 30 feet.”

Despite a 73 on Thursday, Smith’s bounce-back round has her tied for seventh spot after 36 holes.

“It’s been a little while,” said Smith, when asked about the last time she’s been able to regroup like she has this week.

“I’ve been playing consistently, but throwing in a few rough rounds. I haven’t had a nice one for a while. Last week (at the Safeway Classic in Oregon), I got off to a good start and had a good second round to make (the cut). This will get me a little further up the leaderboard.

“(Thursday) I felt pretty ordinary, but (Friday) I just had a simple thought in my head. I feel good about the weekend now and that’s a big change from (Thursday).”

After struggling mightily in 2008, Smith enlisted the services of Foley roughly 18 months ago and has seen a dramatic turnaround in her game.

“He’s great, we had to keep it in the commonwealth,” said the Australian, who moved her home base to Orlando, Fla., so she could be closer to Foley.

“We worked on my swing initially when I started with him, I had just missed seven cuts in a row, so he had me go see a life coach, but he worked with me on my golf. I talk to him a couple times a week and he’s been amazing.

“It had got to the point where golf was dictating my day. If I played bad, it was a bad day. Obviously, it’s your job, but it shouldn’t affect you that much.”

Smith, 26, was a competitive swimmer until the age of 12, but that’s when she started focusing on golf instead.

“I loved swimming, but I started playing golf with my dad and I got to the point where I had to choose one or the other,” said Smith, who represented her state in Australia in the pool before shifting full-time to the links.

The start of her pro golf career was stalled a little bit after Smith got into a car accident in 2003.

“It wasn’t serious,” said Smith, who turned pro in 2004. “I broke some bones in my hand. I had about three months off completely, but I had a really good surgeon and it’s stronger than ever.”

Smith’s goals for the remainder of the season are simple.

“I finished 103rd on the money list last year, so I only had partial status this year,” said Smith. “Obviously, the goal is to regain full status and hopefully, get into the season-ending events.

“If we keep going, we’ll get that done.”


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