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Canadians Continue to Challenge at ISPS HANDA Australian Open

Maude-Aimee Leblanc tees off on the 5th.

Two Canadians are within sight of their first LPGA victory following excellent second round performances at the ISPS HANDA Australian Open at Royal Adelaide.

Alena Sharp and Maude-Aimee Leblanc are both in the top 10 at the halfway point of the event in South Australia while more highly fancied compatriot Brooke Henderson will play alone tomorrow as the last player to make the cut.

Leblanc, who celebrated her 28th birthday on Tuesday, fired a 5-under 68 to be 7-under and just two shots from the lead while Sharp shot 69 to be 6-under and in a tie for 9th.

Aussie Sarah Jane Smith holds a one shot lead at 9-under from four players on -8 including Sweden’s Caroline Hedwell and Americans Lizette Salas and Marissa Steen.

Teeing off from the 10th, the big-hitting Leblanc was 5-under for her first 8 holes including an eagle 3 on the Par-5 17th hole.

“I made some good putts on the front nine to give myself momentum,” Leblanc, who hails from Sherbrooke, Quebec, said.

“It was a good start and I was able to give myself a bit of a cushion to play a little looser on the back but I didn’t get quite as close to the pins as I wanted but overall I’m pleased with my game,” the world No. 210 said.

“I really like the course, it suits long hitters so I’m looking forward to shooting some more low scores on the weekend.

Sharp also eagled the downwind 17th to help her break into the top 10.

Alena Sharp putts for birdie on the 13th hole.

I feel great – I feel like every part of my game is where it needs to be,” the World No. 73 said.

“I love the golf course and I always love coming to Australia and paying in the Australian Open so I’m really happy to be here.”

Sharp, from Hamilton Ontario, said she got a buzz out of seeing the Canadian flag on the leaderboard next to anyone’s name.

“You always want people from your own country play well and when you see their name up on the leaderboard you’re happy for them and it gives you a bit more motivation to get up there too.”

Brooke Henderson, the world No.8 followed her 4-under opening round with a 4-over second round and had to make a four foot putt for bogey at the 18th to make the cut. She will be the first off in a group of one on Saturday.

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 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.

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