Edenvale golfer Ashleigh Buhai boxed a 15-footer for birdie at her last hole of a long day at Glendower Golf Club to take the 36-hole lead in the Sunshine Ladies Tour Classic sponsored by Canon.
After the first round was washed out due to the deluge of rain that hit the club, two rounds were played on Wednesday. Buhai signed for two-under-par 70s in both the morning and afternoon.
She ‘divorced’ her old caddie – new husband Dave – and is using Mpola Wilkinson, a local Glendower bagman, this week. She was pleased with their teamwork out on the course.
‘I hit it really well all day with three birdies and a bogey in both rounds,’ said Buhai. She won the Cape Town Open at Royal Cape on this summer’s Sunshine Ladies Tour, and is lying third in the Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies.
‘I missed a bunch of birdie putts, though. One of just about four and half feet at my penultimate hole of the day, the par-5 eighth, when I started the second round at the 10th. It was a bit of a disappointment, but to finish with a birdie to take the lead was a sweet way to finish. The course was in excellent condition, considering all the rain we’ve had.’
The Royal Johannesburg & Kensington golfer leads by one from a fistful of golfers, including Centurion pair Kim Williams (71-70) and Carrie Park (72-69), Randpark’s Tandi von Ruben (71-70) and Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies leader Kiran Matharu from England (71-70).
Park admitted that it had been a long day.
‘The energy was there to pull my cart 36 holes, though, and I actually got stronger in the afternoon to shoot five birdies on my way to that 69,’ said Korea-born Park, who broke through for her maiden pro win in the South African Women’s Masters at Rondebosch.
‘I think I only missed two or three fairways all day and I made five birdies this afternoon. Very happy with my day.’
Williams, who won the season-opening SuperSport Ladies Challenge at Huddle Park, said she aimed for percentage golf on the long layout.
‘The course is still very wet from all the rain on Tuesday and it was playing long, so I played percentage golf to keep it together,’ said the assistant professional from Centurion Country Club. ‘I struggled a bit on the greens as they were faster than you’d expect, but it’s great to be in contention again,’ said Williams.
Von Ruben, also pulling her own cart, is having a good summer and hit some splendid shots in her two rounds, although a three-putt from nowhere at the par-4 18th was one blemish in a four-birdie outward loop in the afternoon.
‘The greens got a bit bumpy in the afternoon with all the traffic, but it was a good day, and hopefully reward for all the hard work I did back at Randpark in the three months leading up to the start of the Sunshine Ladies Tour,’ said the former SA Women’s Open champion.
It’s a jam-packed leaderboard with Serengeti’s Garcia, winner of last week’s Dimension-Data tournanment at George and Fancourt, lurking just two off the pace on 142 (72-70) alongside Sweden’s Sofia Ljungqvist (70-72) and France’s Valentine Derrey, winner of the 2014 Turkish Ladies Open on the Ladies European Tour, and who is making her Sunshine Ladies Tour debut this week.
And the dark horse to watch in Thursday’s final round could be Matharu, who leads the points rankings from Nicole Garcia and Buhai. A second trophy finish following her wire-to-wire triumph in the Ladies Tshwane Open last month would be the perfect gift to herself on her 28th birthday on Monday.
By Lali Stander
Second Round Leaderboard
140 – Ashleigh Buhai 70 70
141 – Kim Williams 71 70, Carrie Park (KOR) 72 69, Tandi von Ruben 71 70, Kiran Matharu (ENG) 71 70
142 – Nicole Garcia 72 70, Sofia Ljungqvist (SWE) 70 72, Valentine Derrey (FRA) 72 70
144 – Nobuhle Dlamini (SWZ) 71 73