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Can anyone catch Ashleigh Buhai, who leads by five at the AIG Women’s British Open? See which major champions are within striking distance

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Twenty years ago, Ashley Buhai’s childhood hero, Ernie Els, won the British Open at Muirfield. This win came shortly after Buhai faced Els for the first time at the 1998 South African Open. She bought a life-size poster that she kept in her bedroom for him to sign.

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South African legend Gary Player, who won the British Open at Muirfield in 1959, left her a message on Saturday morning.

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Now 33-year-old Buhai, who joined the LPGA in 2008, has a chance to follow in their footsteps at the historic club, where she leads by five hits ahead of the final round of the AIG Women’s British Open.

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“Obviously I’m very pleased,” said Buhai, who hit a 64 on the last hole with a ghost ball to finish 14 under for the championship.

“To be able to, I think, score like that in these conditions, you have to be able to pat yourself on the back; so much so that I thought I was 6 years old and not seven so I was 8 years old when I last played and I think I should look back, probably one of the best rounds of golf that I have ever played.”

Buhai has been in the top 10 of the LPGA rankings 12 times, has not won, and is currently ranked 84th in the world. On a windy Saturday in Gullan, she was in three bumps and never missed. When she missed her first green on the back nine on par 17, Plum folded to a birdie.

“I felt pretty relaxed,” she said. “I’ve been doing a good job with my coach for so long and I feel like my lines are where they should be and I just need to keep my pace. If I keep my pace, it tends to drop most of the time. The club tends to fall where it should fall.”

However, Buhai knows that if she performed so poorly in trial conditions, it means that someone else can too.

American Sherry Steinhauer won this championship in 1998 after four strokes, as did Se Ri Pak in 2001, the biggest comeback since records were set.

The biggest comeback in the overall history of major LPGA championships is seven hits, and it has happened three times: Patty Sheehan, 1983 KPMG Women’s PGA; Carrie Webb, Chevron, 2006; and Minji Lee, 2021 Amundi Evian.

Here are five players to keep an eye on for the Sunday charge:

In Ji Chun (under 9 years old)

In Ji Chung of the Republic of Korea prepares to play her shot on the 6th hole during the third day of the AIG Women’s Muirfield Tournament on August 6, 2022 in Gullan, Scotland. (Photo by Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images)

In Ji Chung is looking to win his fourth major title on Sunday. The 2022 KPMG Women’s Champion is in second place, five strokes behind from 1 to 70 on day three. Three of Chun’s four LPGA titles are major titles and she is currently ranked 11th in the world. Her previous best finish at the event was a seventh place finish at the 2020 Royal Troon.

“It wasn’t easy and it was a bit windy,” said Chun, who talked to himself a lot on the lawn. “I think my game today was very good.”

Hinako Shibuno (under 9 years old)

Hinako Shibuno of Japan watches the third day of the AIG Women’s Muirfield tournament on August 6, 2022 in Gullan, Scotland. (Photo by Octavio Passos/Getty Images)

Hinako Shibuno won the AIG Women’s British Open at Woburn in her first LPGA start and looked like a tough customer on the field in the park. Shibuno has had to adjust a bit to learn how to play links-style fields, and her goal this week has been to make friends with the wind.

Shibuno 5-66 on Saturday puts her five shots behind Booze and could smile on her way to the finish line at Muirfield.

“I’m having fun with all my heart,” said the award-winning newcomer.

Inbi Park (under 7 years old)

Inby Park of South Korea watches her play from the 15th tee during her third round on the third day of the 2022 British Open Women’s Golf Course at Muirfield Golf Course in Gullein, Scotland on August 6, 2022. (Photo by Neil Hanna/AFP)

Inby Park has won seven major titles and knows just how much patience it takes on Sunday to get there. Although she looked a little more out of sorts on Saturday than in the first two rounds, Park can certainly add her name to the list of players who have come back from seven to win.

“When I won at the Turnberry in 2015 it wasn’t as windy,” Park said, “but on the last day I hit 7 under to win the championship. So it really reminded me of something similar to that round.

“(Thump) played perfect today. I don’t remember her making any mistakes today, and even if she did, she ended up with a bird like 17. That’s the round you need to be a champion.”

Madeleine Sagstrom (under 7)

Madeleine Sagstrom of Sweden watches the third day of the AIG Women’s Muirfield tournament on August 6, 2022 in Gullein, Scotland. (Photo by Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images)

Madeleine Sagström lost to Anna Nordquist by a single stroke last year on the 18th hole of Carnoustie. The Swede may now put pressure on Boohai as both seek their first major title.

Sagstrom, who has only recently learned to enjoy links golf, scored 71 on Saturday with five birds.

“It was tough, but that’s what links golf is,” she said. “This is the weather to learn how to play. I wish I had played better, but I’m very happy with today’s equal round.”



The story originally appeared on GolfWeek.


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