A trio of international stars are threatening to extend the home title drought to a decade after Minjee Lee and company tumbled down the women's Australian Open leaderboard with deflating second rounds.
Korea's two-time major winner Jiyai Shin nicked the halfway lead from South Africa's defending champion Ashleigh Buhai with two late birdies in a four-under 68 at The Australian.
Shin will enter the weekend at nine under and two shots clear of Buhai, who had enjoyed the clubhouse lead for more than four hours following a morning 70 at The Lakes.
Another Korean, Jenny Shin, is sitting in solo third at six under after a 73 at The Lakes.
Legendary four-time champion Karrie Webb is the only Australian to have won the Open in the past quarter of a century and home hopes this year appear to be resting on three exciting young amateurs.
While surprise teenage overnight co-leader Rachel Lee slipped 10 shots behind with a second-round 79 at The Australian, Queensland pair Justice Bosio and Sarah Hammett, and South Australia's Caitlin Peirce are well in the mix.
Bosio (69, The Lakes) is fourth at four under, with Hammett and Peirce sharing fifth a shot further back after rounds of 71 and 69 respectively at The Australian.
While not out of it, Steph Kyriacou's prospects nosedived with a 75 at The Australian that left the Sydney local eight strokes off the pace.
Minjee Lee is back level with the card alongside fellow Australian major winner Hannah Green (73, The Lakes) after shooting the same score as her playing partner Kyriacou.
Despite being knocked off the top perch late in the day, Buhai was nevertheless delighted to be back in the mix a year after reigning at The Victoria and Kingston Heath clubs in Melbourne.
"It's a really good position any time you're in there near the top going into the weekend," Buhai said.
"I'm feeling good so far this week. I've taken it easy, it also helps."
Buhai, though, insists it's too early be thinking about going back-to-back in Australia.
"I've just got to focus on doing my steps and process. That's all I can control," she said.
"The minute you start thinking about the outcome, that's when trouble happens.
"My goal this week was to not have very high expectations and have fun, and that's what I've done the last two days."
Buhai was not the least bit surprised Webb was the most recent local champion, in 2014, saying the pressure on home hopes can be unbearable.
"You put so much pressure on yourself," she said.
"When I went back to play the South African Open this year, my goal was to win it and I said that was the most pressure I felt, being the favourite going into the tournament.
"They are always the favourites coming into this tournament and you want it just a little bit more badly when you're in front of your own people."
Australian Associated Press