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Ashleigh Buhai takes huge lead into final round of Women’s Open

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MUIRFIELD, Scotland — Ashleigh Buhai surged to a five-shot lead at the Women’s Open after shooting a 7-under 64 in Saturday's third round. 

Now she just has to find a way to finish it off for her first major victory.

The South African also led this tournament in 2019 at Woburn after the second round but finished fifth, her best result at a major.

Buhai is in a much stronger position at Muirfield after a round that included eight birdies before a lone bogey on the last hole, giving her a 14-under total of 199.

Full-field scores from the AIG Women’s Open

Five of those birdies came on the first seven holes but perhaps the most impressive was on the par-5 17th, when she chipped in after hitting her tee shot into the rough.

It was the best round of the week despite the wind picking up to blow stronger gusts than the first two days.

“To be able to shoot that score in those conditions, you have to be able to pat yourself on the back, so much so that I thought I was 6 under, not 7,” Buhai said. “So, I was 8 under playing the last, which I think I have to look back, is probably one of the best rounds of golf I’ve ever played.”

Hinako Shibuno of Japan (66) and second-round leader In Gee Chun of South Korea (70) are tied for second. Seven-time major winner Inbee Park and Madelene Sagstrom of Sweden are another two shots back.

Shibuno's key to beating Buhai: Befriend wind

Hinako Shibuno trails Ashleigh Buhai by five shots entering Sunday at the AIG Women's Open, and if she's going to track down Buhai, she'll need a little help from a friend: the wind.

Buhai has three victories on the Ladies European Tour but has never won an LPGA event. She’s never had a five-shot lead going into the final round, either.

She’s doing her best not to look too far ahead, though.

“I’m most proud of the way I just stayed focused and calm (today). That’s all I try to control. I wasn’t thinking of the outcome,” Buhai said. “I only saw a leaderboard for the first time I think when I was on 12, no, 13. And then I just said to myself, ‘OK, that’s fine, you’re in a good spot. Check back in with yourself now and concentrate on what you’re trying to do.’”