After being sidelined for five weeks from the LPGA Tour due to a back injury flareup, Ashleigh Buhai made a splash in her first competitive start since early September. The 34-year-old recorded a new career-best 18-hole score of 62 to hold the 18-hole lead for the second time in her tour career at the BMW Ladies Championship, and also broke the previous 18-hole tournament scoring record.
Buhai, who already has a win under her belt this season from the ShopRite LPGA Classic, carded 10 birdies on the day, the most of anyone of the first round at the Seowon Hills course at Seowon Valley Country Club in Gyeonggi-do, South Korea.
“My wedge play was really solid today. I mean, I hit every time and just about had a wedge in my hand, I hit it to a couple feet. So I didn’t have to think too hard on those putts. But then I rolled the ball really well too,” said Buhai. “When I didn’t hit it too close, the ones that didn’t go in burnt the edges. So I felt all round of my game is in a good place at the moment.”
Starting on the 10th, Buhai found her first birdies of Thursday on 11 and 13, and made three straight from 15 to 17 before turning in 31. She carded her sixth birdie of the round on the first, and went on to close with four birdies in her last six holes, including one on her closing hole.
Buhai credited her play in part to being able to take the forced five-week break away from competition, and though she’s still recovering from injury, this day of ‘boring golf’ was an impressive first step back to feeling confident in her game.
“I’ve had one week of practice coming into here. And my goal for this week was to play with no expectations, and that’s often when you try to play well in a game,” said Buhai. “My coach came into Florida last week, we worked on three things, and I’ve just tried to stick to doing those three things.”
Alison Lee tied her career-low 18 hole score after shooting a nine-under 63 to sit in solo second and just one back of Buhai’s lead.