Buhai in major contention again at US Women’s Open

Dec 12, 2020 | Featured, South Africans abroad

Ashleigh Buhai carded a two-under-par 69 on Friday in the second round of the US Women’s Open Championship at the Champions Golf Club in Houston, Texas to move into a share of sixth place heading into the weekend of the year’s final major championship.

After her 11th-place showing in the Women’s British Open earlier in the year, she is set fair to improve on her best-ever performance in the US Women’s Open of a share of 27th in 2017 as she finds herself five shots off the pace-setting Hinako Shibuno of Japan.

“On my first nine I played really steady, very solid golf,” said Buhai, “and then kind of got off to a good start on the back nine, birdied my 10th hole, which was the first, and then hit a few suspect iron shots, but I scrambled well and then finished strong. Made a birdie on my 17th, which was eight, and I lipped out for birdie on the ninth, which was my number 18. I was just proud of how I hung in there to make those up-and-downs to keep me in it and to finish two-under.”

Shibuno rose to sudden fame in the summer of 2019 when she won the Women’s British Open at Woburn, the first major for the 22-year-old and her first time playing outside Japan – an event where Buhai finished fifth.

Shibuno looked the part of a major champion at the US Women’s Open, where the forecast of rain and strong wind never quite materialised. The rain was light and occasional. The wind was little more than a rumour.

For Buhai, the conditions on a different course – the tournament is played on the Cypress Creek and Jackrabbit layouts over the first two rounds, and will be finished on Cypress Creek – were part of the challenge. “Yeah, Cypress is very different, and obviously, with conditions today, we got lucky,” she said. “We were expecting worse. So obviously Jackrabbit is I feel more target golf. Greens are a bit smaller and there’s a lot of long putts, whereas on Cypress obviously it plays a little bit longer. Glad to have gotten the two courses done now and we get on to the weekend.

“I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing and try to do a little bit better every day. I didn’t play great last week in Dallas, and it kind of scarred me a little bit, but I dug deep this week, did some video work with my coach, and we just have kept it simple, and I’m feeling a little bit more comfortable every day, so I’m hoping that’s going to continue.”

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