Hinako Shibuno, golf's 'Smiling Cinderella', leads US Women's Open in Texas

Japan’s Hinako Shibuno, who was nicknamed the Smiling Cinderella when she won the 2018 AIG Women’s Open at Woburn, is halfway towards a second golfing fairytale.

Hinako Shibuno of Japan looks over a putt on the 18th green during the second round of the 75th US Women's Open at Champions Golf Club in Houston, Texas. Picture: Carmen Mandato/Getty Images
Hinako Shibuno of Japan looks over a putt on the 18th green during the second round of the 75th US Women's Open at Champions Golf Club in Houston, Texas. Picture: Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

The 22-year-old sits three shots clear of the field in the 75th US Women’s Open after carding a second-round 67 at Champions Golf Club in Houston.

Shibuno’s four-under effort came on the Jackrabbit Course, having opened with a 68 on the Cypress Creek Course, and left her on seven-under-par in the final major of 2020.

“Today my tee shots found the rough more often. However, my second shots were pretty stable and able to par on to the greens,” said Shibuno, who signed for six birdies and two bogeys on Friday.

“So my golf today was pretty safe, stable. At the same time, when it comes to the chance for a birdie, my putting was pretty good.”

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Shibuno is bidding to join Se Ri Pak and In Gee Chun as the only players in history to win majors as their first two LPGA Tour titles.

Pak won the 1998 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and the 1998 US Women’s Open, while Chun landed the 2015 US Women’s Open and the 2016 Evian Championship.

Swedish amateur Linn Grant opened with back-to-back 69s to sit in second place on her own, with overnight leader Amy Olson a further shot back along with another amateur, Kaitlyn Papp, and Megan Khang.

Olson followed her first-round 67 with a one-over 72 on the Jackrabbit Course.

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Former winner Cristie Kerr is one of eight players tied for sixth on two-under, a group that includes sisters Ariya Jutanugarn and Moriya Jutanugarn, as well as Houston native and Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open champion Stacy Lewis.

Defending champion Jeongeun Lee6 carded a two-under 69 on the Jackrabbit Course and heads into the weekend tied for 20th on level-par.

English duo Charley Hull and Jodi Ewart Shadoff are also on level-par.

AIG Women’s Open champion Sophia Popov just scraped into the weekend as the cut came at three-over, with 2020 LPGA winners Georgia Hall and Mel Reid among those to miss out as they both sat on seven-over.

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