Buhai blasts into top 15 British Women’s Open

Ashleigh Buhai; credit Sunshine Ladies Tour.

With all the attention on South Korea’s In-Kyung Kim in the third round of the Ricoh Women’s British Open, South Africans may have missed a stunning performance from Ashleigh Buhai, who rocketed to a tie for 13th..

The Sunshine Ladies Tour winner was the sole South African to reach the weekend with rounds of 69 and 73.

Joint 48th on two under 142 meant an early start at the Kingsbarns Golf Links, but Buhai made the most of the sunny conditions to fire six birdies for a five-under-par 67 that catapulted her towards the leaders.

“I lost some ground and slipped to a tie for 13th as the day progressed, but I’m over the moon to be in the top 15,” said Buhai, who starts the final round at seven under 209. “This is the best position I’ve held going into the final round of a Major and all I want to do is keep this momentum going.”

The two-time Ladies European Tour champion stumbled out the gate with a bogey at the first hole, but recovered immediately.

“I three-putted the first, but I bounced back well with a birdie on two,” said the reigning Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies champion. “I hit a great approach into the sixth to about eight feet and made the birdie putt and that kept me going.

“After the turn, I hit two great shots at the par five (11) and made a good two-putt birdie. After a good drive at 12, I hit pitching wedge to 12 feet and holed the putt to go six under.

“I made two solid pars at 13 and 14 and hit a nine-iron into 15 to 10 feet and holed out to get to seven under. I was never in any trouble. I have been striking it well and I’ve been solid tee to, but the biggest difference on Saturday was that the putts started to drop.”

Buhai jumped 34 positions and she will start the final round alongside major champion Hyo-Joo Kim from South Korea, who fired a first round 61 en route to victory in the 2014 Evian Championship.

Meanwhile IK Kim bolstered her hopes of a maiden major title.

The South Korean fired six birdies for a flawless 66 to move to 17-under par 199 and opened up a six shot lead over England’s Georgia Hall and Moriya Jutanugarn from Thailand.

Hall was chasing hard, but the 21-year-old dropped three shots over the closing holes for a 70, while Jutanugarn mixed seven birdies with two bogeys for a 67.

Kim not only bettered the previous 54-hole record of 200, set by Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn last year, but she is threatening the 72-hole championship scoring record of 19-under 269, set by Karen Stupples in 2004 at Sunningdale.

Olympic gold medallist Inbee Park from South Korea also capitalised on an early start.

The seven-time major winner carded a flawless 64 that equalled Michelle Wie’s two-day old course record and vaulted to 10 under. She is joint fourth with American Ally Macdonald.