During a practice tour in Muirfield, South Africa’s Ashley Buhay found herself pulling a YouTube video of a great shot of Ernie Els’ lair on the 13th hole. Els was a Bohai champion growing up, and she wanted to relive his greatest shots on her way to winning the British Open 20 years ago.
The 2022 AIG Women’s British Open marks the first time that professional women have had the opportunity to compete in historic Muirfield, which hosts 16 British men’s championships. Buhai now lives full time in Florida and has had the opportunity to play several rounds with Els when she’s not on the road, though she never had the chance to ask him about Muirfield.
Buhai led three hits after two rounds at Woburn in 2019 and now finds herself tied up with Madeleine Sagstrom in the 7-under, one-man show, In Gee Chun.
“It’s great to be able to play so well in the first two rounds here, and to try to follow in his footsteps,” Buhai said.
A three-time winner of the Women’s European Tour, the 33-year-old Buhai has not broken into the LPGA Championship. It looks like she might set a new championship record for the links session after a 30-to-nine comprising an eagle at 5 par-5. However, the tie was a disappointing 5 par-5, followed by a bogey on day 18, leaving her with a 6-under 65. Buhai said she She would have recorded this result at the beginning of the day.
“I mixed up a lot with the way I played today,” she said. “I stayed very patient.”
Chun of South Korea recently won the KPMG Women’s title for her third major title. If you take the AIG Women’s British Championship, you’ll have four of five major titles, and you’ll only miss the Chevron Championship (and thus would be a major tournament in the WTA’s eyes).
Chun shot 66 on Friday and said her bet with Dean Herden has helped her stay focused.
She said, “If I did a ghost-free ride, he said he’d buy dinner and pay me $100 for every day if I could do it.”
Chun has scored one ghost every day so far, but he enjoys the challenge of getting Hearden to pay.
Sagstrom, who finished second last year at Carnoustie, said she has only recently begun to enjoy links golf.
“It was hate at first sight,” she said. “The great hate at first sight. I remember especially well that we played a British game in Wales and the weather was awful and I couldn’t keep the ball low to save my life. I figured it out from there. This is my sixth season as a professional so it took me a while.”
Sagstrom scored eight birds in the second round 65, including a pair in the last two holes.
Speaking of her entry in the hot weather, Australian Hannah Green broke four of the last five holes to hit the board at number 66. She made three back with Japan’s Mio Yamashita.
Seven-time main winner Inbee Park is the only one to finish fourth in the 6-under. Park won the last major at the 2015 AIG Women’s British Open in Turnberry.
Park said: “Believe it or not, I’ve been hitting the ball really well…only all year this year, but the racket hasn’t been good at all. Too many three hits and missing every chance on the green lawn.”
But that has changed this week, which should sound the alarm to everyone within a tumultuous distance of bullets at Muirfield.
World number two Minji Li, winner of two of the last six majors, is four in the back and has Chance to move to number 1 In the Rolex standings for the first time, he won at Muirfield after Jin Young Ko missed the cut.
Lee could also move up to number one by a second singles finish, should third seed Nelly Korda finish third or worse.
No Australian has been No. 1 since the rankings first came out in February 2006. South Korea’s Koo ranked No. 1 for 27 consecutive weeks on January 31, 2022. She ranked No. 1 for a total of 133 weeks in her career.