Mike Green
3 minute read
6 Aug 2022
8:58 am

SA’s Ashleigh Buhai in the mix at Women’s Open at Muirfield

Mike Green

“This is my favourite tournament of the year. I look forward to it, and I just love the creativity that you have to have."

Ashleigh Buhai of South Africa is second after the second round of the Women's Open. Picture: Octavio Passos/Getty Images

But for a bogey on the last on Friday, Ashleigh Buhai would have held the halfway lead after the second round of the AIG Women’s Open at Muirfield as she renewed her love-affair with a major championship she could easily win.

Despite that dropped shot, Buhai produced a mesmerising round, reaching halfway at seven-under-par. That was one behind In Gee Chun of South Korea, who had a five-under 66 in her second round to best Buhai’s 65. Buhai was in a share of second with Madelene Sagstrom of Sweden, who also had a six-under 65 in the second round.

FULL LEADERBOARD

“I do love playing links golf,” said Buhai. “This is my favourite tournament of the year. I look forward to it, and I just love the creativity that you have to have.

“I’m super chuffed with how I played today. I stayed very patient. Stuck with my steps and my processes, which is my goal this week, just to do those well and hopefully the outcome takes care of itself. I’ve been doing that pretty well the last few weeks and I was obviously disappointed to end with a bogey.”

The bogey came at the end of a sequence of six consecutive pars, and that period was after she had turned in six-under-par 30 with birdies on two, four, six and nine, and an eagle on five with a bomb of a putt. She picked up another birdie on 11, and it took a stroke of bad luck for her to drop that shot on the last.

‘Positives’

“I hit it in the fairway off the tee on 18,” she said. “It was in a divot. The divot was softer than I thought, so I was a little unlucky but I would have taken today’s score at the beginning of the day for sure. That’s what links golf is about. You can hit poor shots and they turn out good, and you can hit good shots and they turn out poor.

“I didn’t hit a very good shot on 16 today and I got lucky. So you’ve got to take the bounces when you get them and I did. I took my par on 16 and ran. Yeah, I’m not too disappointed with how I finished, and I’ve just got to take the positives into tomorrow.”

Two of the other three South Africans in the field made the cut, with Lee-Anne Pace carding a two-over 73 to reach two-over for the championship in a share of 49th, and Paula Reto going one-under in 70 for a halfway total of two-over to join Pace.

The fourth South African, Casandra Alexander, playing in her debut major championship, had things going with three birdies following her opening bogey. But she dropped five more shots from the eighth hole onwards to sign for a five-over 76, and she missed the cut at five-over in a share of 83rd.

Ernie Els

Buhai is well aware that her hero Ernie Els won one of his Open Championships at Muirfield, and will try to ride that knowledge through the weekend.

“I know Ernie won here and even when we were playing in our practice round, I said to my caddie, let’s see how Ernie hit the shot,” she said. “I was YouTubing it while we were out there, his famous bunker shot.

“I haven’t spoken to Ernie recently but I’m now living full-time in Florida and I got to play a little bit with him and he was my hero growing up. It’s pretty cool to be able to play well for the first two rounds here and try to follow in his footsteps.”