Smith takes the lead at golf's US Open

Andrew Both
Australian Sarah Smith shares the first round lead at the US Open after scoring a 5-under 67

A lack of practice rounds was no problem for Australia's Sarah Jane Smith as she joined Ariya Jutanugarn and Lee Jeong-eun in the lead on the opening day at the US Women's Open on Thursday.

More than 150mm of rain that soaked the Shoal Creek course between Sunday and Wednesday prevented many players, including Smith, from getting in even one full practice round.

But Smith prevailed to share the lead at five-under 67, good for a two-shot first round lead over a group including 2014 champion Michelle Wie.

Smith, who had only nine holes' practice, was almost giddy with delight at her lofty position.

"I've never had the lead. I would much rather be playing well than not," said the 33-year-old journeywoman, who eagled the par-five 11th from 87 yards.

Although the course was damp and downright soggy in places, that did not bother Thailand's Ariya, who eschewed her driver in favour of a three-wood off the tee.

The tactic paid off handsomely as she largely avoided the soggy rough and took advantage of soft greens to fire approach shots to within birdie range with monotonous regularity.

An eagle at her 15th hole, the par-five sixth, where she hoisted a five-iron to five feet, capped off a near perfect morning.

"My game was pretty good today," said Ariya, who arrived in sizzling form after winning the Kingsmill Championship.

Her practice was affected not only by the wet but by her clubs getting lost in transition.

"It's tough for me today because I didn't see the front (nine)," said Ariya, 22, who became the first Thai player to win a major title when she captured the 2016 Women's British Open.

Players expressed surprise at how much it dried out in the 24-hour window of dry weather before the first round.

"It's mind blowing how great the golf course is," Wie said after a 69.