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(Reuters) - Sarah Jane Smith, seeking her first LPGA title after a decade on the circuit, put herself in position for a breakthrough win as she moved two strokes clear in the second round of the Lorena Ochoa Invitational in Mexico City on Friday.
The Australian birdied four of her first seven holes on the way to a four-under 68 at Club de Golf Mexico, her nine-under total of 135 putting her two ahead of Mexican Gaby Lopez (65), Colombia's Mariajo Uribe (67) and South Korean Hur Mi-jung (66).
Karine Icher of France and South Korea's Chella Choi were a further shot back at six-under after they both carded their second successive 69s in the limited-field event featuring 35 players.
Smith, an LPGA rookie in 2006 whose best finish was a tie for second at the 2014 Kingsmill Championship, has never before held the 36-hole lead on the circuit.
"I feel a little bit nervous to be honest, I have never been in this position," Smith told reporters. "Even a couple times today I was a little nervous, but I was happy with the way that I handled it.
"Hopefully I can just keep doing what I have been doing and see what happens."
Lopez, competing on her home course, made a fast start to the second round with an eagle at the par-five second where she hit her second shot from 195 yards to just two feet.
"It is one of those numbers when you know you have the number perfect, is just a matter of the swing, adjusting your swing," said Lopez, who went on to card six birdies and a sole bogey.
American Michelle Wie, back at the tournament where she posted her first professional victory in 2009, followed her opening 70 with a 71 to end the day six strokes off the pace.
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Larry Fine