• Buhai takes control in Joburg

    Ashley Buhai at the Joburg Open
    Ashleigh Buhai during day 2 of the Joburg Ladies Open

    Ashleigh Buhai remains on course for a wire-to-wire victory in the Joburg Ladies Open after a two-under-par 70 moved her within touching distance of an eighth Sunshine Ladies Tour title at Modderfontein Golf Club on Thursday.

    ‘Obviously I’m happy with the position I’m in; anytime you go into a final round leading it’s a good place to be,’ said Buhai, who leads by two on six-under 138 from Lauren Taylor and is six strokes clear from a four-way tie for third.

    ‘I didn’t hit it as close as I did in the first round, but at the same time, the conditions were a little trickier. We had a two-hour delayed start and the course was quite wet, and then the wind came up on the back nine and was really swirling.’

    Taylor from England – a joint runner-up in 2017 – returned a 70, while Nobuhle Dlamini fired five straight birdies from the 10th to record the lowest round of the day.

    A sublime five-under 67 moved the big-hitting Swazi golfer to level par alongside Carrie Park from South Korea, Swiss amateur Azelia Meichtry and another English talent, Hayley Davis.

    Buhai began the second round with a one-shot lead and kept the advantage as both players birdied the opening par five.

    The 28-year-old Royal Johannesburg and Kensington golfer countered soft drops at the 3rd and 6th holes with birdies at 4th and 8th as Taylor picked up another gain at 6th and Buhai led by two at the turn. The English golfer birdied at the 10th but gave the shot back with a bogey at the 18th and Buhai birdied the 17th to edge two shots clear.

    ‘Almost every hole down the back nine was into the wind and it was tricky, but overall I played steady and stayed patient,’ said Buhai. ‘I made eight pars down the back nine and sometimes those are bigger than birdie putts, especially in conditions like these.’

    In 2017, Buhai racked up a hat-trick of victories in 2017 and walked away with the lion’s share of the Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies that launched a career-best season on the LPGA Tour.

    Victory after a runner-up finish in last week’s Canon Ladies Tshwane Open could leave her in a strong position on the Investec Property Fund Order of Merit to challenge for the R100,000 bonus at the end of the season.

    ‘If I go with the same game plan and I trust my swing, I’m in a good position to win,’ said Buhai. ‘I’m feeling my lines pretty good and I’ve felt this week that the game is starting to feel like it did at the end of last season. I just need to get my confidence up and it would be nice (to get) a few more birdie putts dropped in the final round.

    ‘I’m leaving next week to play the LPGA Tour in Australia, Thailand and Singapore, so I’ll be missing three events at home. A win tomorrow would be great. It would be nice to get the maximum points on offer and still be in a strong position when I come back to play the Investec South African Open.’

    Leaderboard:

    All competitors RSA unless otherwise specified and amateurs are indicated as AMA:

    138 – Ashleigh Buhai 68 70
    140 – Lauren Taylor (ENG) 70 70
    144 – Nobuhle Dlamini (SWZ) 77 67, Carrie Park (KOR) 72 72, Azelia Meichtry AMA (SUI) 73 71, Hayley Davis (ENG) 73 71
    145 – Ivanna Samu 70 75
    146 – Stacy Bregman 72 74, Kiran Matharu (ENG) 72 74, Hanna Roos (SWE) 69 77, Alexandra Lennartsson (SWE) 73 73
    147 – Maria Beautell (ESP) 78 69, Mariell Bruun (NOR) 72 75, Emie Peronnin (FRA) 70 77
    148 – Anna Sventrup (SWE) 74 74
    149 – Kim Williams 75 74, Caitlyn Macnab AMA 78 71, Kiera Floyd AMA 73 76
    150 – Monique Smit 77 73, Bonita Bredenhann (NAM) 75 75, Rachel Raastad (NOR) 78 72, Yolanda Duma 74 76, Chloe Royston AMA 77 73, Rachael Goodall (ENG) 74 76
    151 – Anne-Lise Caudal (FRA) 76 75, Woo-Ju Son AMA 74 77, Tandi Mc Callum 77 74, Lora Assad 77 74, Casandra Hall AMA 76 75, Laura Fuenfstueck (GER) 76 75, Alana van Greuning 76 75
    152 – Eleonora Galletti AMA 79 73
    153 – Francesca Cuturi 76 77, Tijana Kraljevic 74 79, Bertine Strauss 76 77, Nastja Banovec (SVN) 78 75
    154 – Sofia Gronberg-Whitmore (SWE) 81 73, Hannah Arnold (USA) 78 76, Ethel Ruthenberg AMA 82 72, Valeria Martinoli (SUI) 77 77, Lejan Lewthwaite 76 78

    Missed the cut:

    155 – Mae Cornforth 82 73, Kelsey Nicholas AMA 74 81, Dominique Jacobs 78 77, Nora Angehrn (SUI) 76 79, Chiara Contomathios 75 80
    156 – Laura Sedda (ITA) 79 77, Nicole Becker 77 79
    157 – Melissa Eaton 79 78, Clara Pietri (SUI) 78 79, Flora Peuch (FRA) 83 74, Lindi Coetzee AMA 84 73, Michelle Leigh 78 79, Kaiyuree Moodley AMA 73 84
    159 – Shawnelle de Lange 75 84
    161 – Carmen Taljaard AMA 84 77, Morgana Robbertze 77 84, Rachel Rossel (SUI) 78 83
    162 – Lara Weinstein 81 81
    163 – Larissa Du Preez AMA 87 76, Lynette Fourie AMA 84 79
    164 – Katia Shaff AMA (AUT) 84 80, Siviwe Duma 82 82
    165 – Michelle de Vries 86 79
    166 – Crizelda van Niekerk 87 79
    167 – Kera Healey AMA 87 80
    168 – Gabriella Venter AMA 86 82
    169 – Jamila Jaxaliyeva (KAZ) 89 80, Anne Sophie Le Nalio (FRA) 87 82
    171 – Alet de Langen 87 84, Leslie Grandet (MAD) 85 86
    172 – Muriel McIntyre (CAN) 89 83
    173 – Teagan Lubbe AMA 88 85
    174 – Kim de Klerk AMA 88 86
    175 – Lorena Hermann AMA (SUI) 87 88
    176 – Virginie Roques (FRA) 87 89
    178 – Noluthando Mdanda AMA 91 87
    179 – Laura Welch (CAN) 97 82
    WDN – Caryn Louw 93 WDN, Marguerite Pienaar 85 WDN
    RTD – Lee-Anne Pace RTD

    Photo: Petri Oeschger/Sunshine Tour/Gallo Images

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