WOBURN – South African Ashleigh Buhai held the clubhouse lead by one in the Women’s British Open at Woburn Golf Club on Thursday.
The 30-year-old from Johannesburg carded a solid seven-under-par 65 in warm and cloudy conditions to post the target on the Marquess’ Course this afternoon, one ahead of Japan’s Hinako Shibuno and Ameircan Danielle Kang.
The three-time Ladies European Tour (LET) tournament winner, who is looking for her first
She said: “I lipped out on my first hole for birdie, holed a good putt on my second, and the third I actually hit it in the right rough, had to punch it out, but a good bounce, rolled up to like four-feet, so we’ll take that one and then I just played really steady.
“Obviously I’m really chuffed to get in at 7-under. I hit a bit of a wobble in the middle of my round, and to finish with three birdies and come in strong — I had a goal when I saw the lead was 6 to get to 7, so I holed like a 30-footer on the 16th hole and that got me to 7, so very happy.”
She enjoyed the challenge of playing a longer course than in 2016, the last time the championship was staged at Woburn, as the greens were much more receptive after heavy rainfall earlier in the week.
“I felt I’ve been swinging it well, I’m hitting the target and into the zones that my coach and I talk about, and holing some really good putts. I’m feeling really confident with the putter, and it’s been good the last few weeks, and today I managed to just hit a few more greens and rolled in the putts.
“Last week Evian was playing super tough, I found. The rough if you missed the fairways, it was brutal. I played very steady, and I brought that game into here. The driving, it’s a little bit easier this week, so it’s a little more forgiving, and you can still make a score if you miss the fairway, so I was really happy with the way I got around today."
Buhai, who has a a well-decorated amateur career, first won on the LET as an 18-year-old in the Catalonia Ladies Masters in 2007 and won the 2011 Portugal Open four years later, playing under her maiden name Ashleigh Simon. She will also take confidence from winning the Investec Women’s South African Open at Westlake in Cape Town in March last year.
She feels that she has been swinging it well, but recent work on her short game has made the difference this week and she’s feeling ‘very confident’ in her abilities at the last major of 2019.
“I think the last few weeks I’ve just been trying to be a lot calmer, and when I’ve felt the pressure under the gun, I’ve just tried to stay a lot calmer and have some better thoughts, and it seems to be working.”
She tied for 37th in the Evian Championship and prior to that was joint eighth in the South African Open, where she played as the defending champion this year.