Ashleigh Buhai put herself firmly in the frame to challenge for a major championship title on Friday as she carded a two-under-par 68 in the second round of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Aronimink Golf Club in Newton Square, Pennsylvania.
She is at two-under for the tournament too, just two shots off the lead held by Sei Young Kim of Korea. The Korean closed with a 29 on her finishing nine – the first nine – including a run of five birdies in the final six holes. Four players sit in three-under, while Buhai is one of five players on two-under.
“I’m feeling really good with where I’m lying,” said Buhai, who made a bogey on 18 to slip one shot further back of the lead than she could have been. “I executed my second shot like I wanted to on 18, got a big bounce with the greens firming up so much this afternoon, hit a good chip and just didn’t hit the best putt. But I would have taken two-under at the start of the day.”
The South African has had a good run on the LPGA Tour lately, with a play-off loss two weeks back and then a share of sixth last week. Add that to a share of 11th in the Women’s British Open. “I thought it kind of started to click for me at the British Open,” she said. “I finished tied 11th there and then in the week off after Wal-Mart my coach was up from South Africa. I needed to tidy up my putting a little bit. I’ve been hitting it good, and that’s been the difference. I’m just making some putts. Out here especially the four-footers that you have you leave yourself for par, those are big and that’s what keeps you in it.”
Up ahead, 10-time LPGA Tour winner Kim is looking for her first major victory. She was runner-up at the 2015 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and tied for second at the Evian Championship in 2018.
The last four winners of the tournament either led or co-led after 36 holes. Jennifer Kupcho (65), Danielle Kang (69), Carlota Ciganda (69) and Anna Nordqvist (68) were the players a stroke back.
Buhai has adapted well to the conditions of the course which is playing as tough as a major championship course it expected to. “Obviously it’s tough but it’s a major, so that’s how it has to play and it needs to play,” she said. “The fairways are generous, but you have to hit it into good areas to leave yourself good angles, and I think mainly it’s the greens, hitting it into the right areas on the greens and staying very patient. You’re going to go eight, nine holes with just leaving yourself 30-footers and you have to just accept them. I think as long as you do that, you’ll be fine around here.”
The third round will be televised on SuperSport channel 213 at 5.30pm.