Ashleigh Buhai of South Africa carded a 7-under-par 64 on Saturday to seize a five-stroke lead heading into the final round at the AIG Women’s Open in Gullane, Scotland.
Buhai overcame windy conditions to record eight birdies – including four straight on holes Nos. 4-7 – before settling for a bogey on No. 18. She resides at 14-under 199 for the tournament at historic Muirfield.
“Yeah, obviously I’m very pleased,” Buhai said. “To be able to shoot that score in those conditions, you have to be able to pat yourself on the back; so much so that I thought I was 6-under, not seven, so I was 8-under playing the last, which I think I have to look back is probably one of the best rounds of golf I’ve ever played.”
Buhai, who had a 65 on Friday, has yet to win on the LPGA Tour, although she has been victorious three times on the Ladies European Tour. The 33-year-old does have two top-10 finishes in 2022, including fourth place at the LOTTE Championship in Hawaii.
Buhai is looking to join Hall of Famer Sally Little (1980, 1988) as the only South African woman to win a major tournament on the LPGA tour.
First-round leader Hinako Shibuno of Japan shot a 66 and second-round leader In Gee Chun of South Korea shot 70. The two are tied for second at 9 under.
Shibuno, the 2019 tournament champion, made six birdies and one bogey. She benefited from a back-nine 31 to pull even with Chun, who collected three birdies and two bogeys on Saturday.
“Yeah, it was not easy and it was a bit windy out there. I think my game was like really good today,” said Chun, who has four career LPGA Tour victories.
“So I had two bogeys but golf is always like not easy. I think it was another good experience with the big wind out there.”
Seven-time major champion Inbee Park (70) of South Korea and Sweden’s Madelene Sagstrom (71) are tied for fourth at 7-under 206. Sagstrom finished in a tie for second at this tournament in 2021.
Although Buhai holds a commanding lead, Park was quick to point out that the weather conditions could play a role in Sunday’s final round.
“This golf course with the wind blowing on the back nine like this, you just don’t know what’s going to happen,” Park said. “And losing three or four shots is just really easy out there. So yeah, just never give up, and just try to make some opportunities.
“Yeah, just got to play some good golf just like Ashleigh today.”
Australians Stephanie Kyriacou (70) and Minjee Lee (70) as well as Japan’s Miyu Yamashita (71) are tied for sixth up at 5 under.