31st January 2019 | Sunshine Ladies Tour
Buhai bursts clear in Canon Sunshine Ladies Open
31 January 2019 – South Africa’s top ranked Ashleigh Buhai remains the player to catch with 18 holes remaining in the Canon Sunshine Ladies Tour Open at Irene Country Club.
A bogey-free five-under-par 67 on the opening day boosted Buhai to the top of the leaderboard and she continued her stunning start in the 2019 season-opener with another flawless performance on day two.
The Johannesburg professional will take a staggering seven-shot lead into the final round after a four-under 68 moved her to nine-under 135.
“Obviously I am very happy with my score, although I felt I played a lot better in the first round,” said Buhai, who is gunning for her 10th title on the local circuit.
“You know, two weeks ago I was really glad the Sunshine Ladies Tour was starting a little later this year. I took a five week break after a long stretch on the LPGA Tour at the end of last year and I was so rusty. I worked hard in the past two weeks and it’s great to see really positive results.”
Buhai started the second round three shots clear. She extended her lead with a birdie at the par five second and kept her advantage intact with a further gain at eight.
“Coming into the round, I wanted to maintain that three-shot lead,” she said. “I managed to do that with the two birdies on the front nine, but the back nine was a little iffy. I managed to scramble well to keep myself in it.
“I made a really good par-save at 10 after I hit it in the trees. I had to punch out and made the up-and-down for par from 60 metres out. I birdied the next hole and I stayed patient, because I knew I had some short holes coming where I could take advantage with wedges.
“I missed two greens, but I didn’t feel that I hit bad shots. I kept it going with good pars. I hit a good shot into the 17th and lipped out for birdie, but I finally got rewarded with the birdie on 18.”
Is she surprised to be leading by such a huge margin after two rounds?
“The course is playing relatively long after all the rain and the kikuyu is heavy,” she said. “Although the greens are soft and you can fire at the flags, you have to keep it in play. I’ve missed very few fairways and greens and I’m still bogey-free after 36 holes, which is a first for me, but I think that’s why I’ve pulled away from the field.”
Benoni rookie Casandra Hall and former Ladies European Tour winner Anne-Lise Caudal from France join Buhai in Friday’s leading group.
Hall was even-par at the start of the round and got it four-under during her outward loop. The 2018 SA Amateur Women’s Stroke Play champion made three bogeys on the bounce coming home, but a birdie-finish for a round of 70 moved her to two-under.
Caudal also returned a 70 to finish a further shot back.
“I’m looking forward to playing with Anne-Lise and Cass,” said the world number 116. “Anne-Lise and I have known each since I first went to play the Ladies European Tour and we are good friends. She is very solid tee to green and I expect her to go low in the final round.
“We actually played in Tuesday’s pro-am together. She is a great girl and a talented golfer and she can bomb the ball. She takes photos of my drives! She’s played really well over the last two days and it’s nice to see her in the leading group in her first event as a rookie.”
Top ranked Kajal Mistry leads the leading amateur challenge on five-over after carding rounds of 72 and 77. Fellow GolfRSA Elite Squad player Symone Henriques is a further shot back.
Three more amateurs made the cut to the top 30 professionals and ties, which fell at 156.
Ernie Els and Fancourt Foundation member Larissa Du Preez (153) and Alison Muirhead from Scotland (156) will join the line-up alongside SADGB member Pheletso Mota.
The GolfRSA Talent Identification Squad player from Kroonstad bounced back after an opening 81 with a 74 to finish on 155, making her the youngest starter at 16 years old in Friday’s final round at Irene Country Club.
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Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the Sunshine Ladies Tour and WPGA.