South Africa’s Ashleigh Buhai fired a course record 64 in windy conditions to open up a five-shot lead at the end of day three of the AIG Women’s Open at Muirfield.
The three-time LET winner, who sat in second place overnight after carding a second round 65, picked up where she left off yesterday with five birdies on her front nine including four in-a-row on holes four through seven.
Buhai holds a five-shot lead heading into tomorrow’s final round. (photo by Tristan Jones/LET)
Buhai continued her fantastic play rolling in birdies on 10 and 14, before chipping in from off the green on the 17th for her eighth birdie of the day. Although the 33-year-old South African finished with a bogey on the last, she reached a total of 14-under-par and holds a commanding lead heading into the final round.
“I’m very pleased to be able to shoot that score in those conditions,” said Buhai, who competed under her maiden name, Simon, in the early part of her career, before her marriage in 2016. “You have to be able to pat yourself on the back, so much so I thought I was six-under and not seven. Looking back, it is one of the best rounds of golf I have ever played.”
Looking at her big lead, Buhai, who has just one top 10 in 42 previous major starts, added: “I don’t think you can ever be comfortable in a Major, whether you’re coming from behind or leading. It’s going to be another tough day and the wind is going to blow, which is good as I prefer it that way. But they say big leads are often more difficult and I think because you try to maybe play defensively, but if I keep doing what I’m doing and sticking to those steps then hopefully, it will be good enough.”
Japan’s Hinako Shibuno and Korea’s In Gee Chun are sharing second place on nine-under having shot rounds of 66 and 70 respectively. Shibuno, winner of this championship in 2019, made six birdies and one bogey on her way to second place and was pleased with her day’s work.
“My putting was very good, and I was very happy about the birdie on the 14th. I’m having fun. If I can play tomorrow with Ashleigh, I would be very happy about it, but I want to win. Tomorrow, I want to be friends with that wind.”
Three-time Major winner Chun, who led at the halfway stage, made three birdies and two bogeys for her round of 70 to sit in third, while Korea’s Inbee Park and Sweden’s Madelene Sagstrom are tied fourth on seven-under having shot rounds of 70 and 71 respectively. Two shots further back on five under, and sharing sixth, are Australian duo Steph Kyriacou and Minjee Lee alongside Japan’s Miyuu Yamashita.
Of the home contingent, Charley Hull is the highest placed English player in tied 15th after a third round 69 took her total to three under, while Jodi Ewart Shadoff and Mel Reid are a shot back in a tie for 19th. Georgia Hall is in 29th after rounds of 70, 72 and 70.
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