After five weeks on the crutches list due to back problems, Ashleigh Buhai is clearly fit and healthy again.
The 34-year-old South African holds joint second position after the second round of the BMW Championship in Gyeonggi-do in South Korea.
However, the Johannesburg golf star will be disappointed with how her second 18 holes ended on Friday on the Seowon Hills Country Club’s newly designed course.
The world’s no. The 20-year-old had a two-shot lead after 12 holes after she scored two birdies on the first nine and a third on the eleventh hole to look firmly in control of things.
But as good as the major champion was over day two’s first dozen holes after a brilliant first day on Thursday when she played 62 shots (-10), that’s how powerful she finished.
She managed the thirteenth to score her first bogey of the tournament, after which it seemed as if the wind had suddenly been taken out of her sails.
The SA golf star missed the fourteenth and fifteenth greens with her approach shots and piled up further bogeys, after which she conceded a fourth shot to par at the eighteenth to give up the lead.
Buhai’s score of 73 for a total of 135 (-9) places her together with the American Alison Lee (72) in second position, two strokes behind the Aussie Minjee Lee.
Minjee Lee took the lead with a birdie at the last hole. She played scores of 64 and 69 the first two days.
Three players, the New Zealander Lydia Ko and the two South Koreans Jeongeun Lee6 and Hoe-ran Ryu, share the fourth position at -8.
Lee6 and the two Americans Angel Yin and Nelly Korda showed the best of all on Friday with scores of 68 (-4).
Yin is tied for seventh at -7, with Korda tied for ninth on the leaderboard at -6.
After her brilliant game on Thursday, Buhai said she had no expectations to perform this week.
“My back is fine and I feel better. I am here to test myself but have no expectations of immediate success on my return,” said Buhai.
Last year’s British Open champion needed 33 putts on Friday after hitting only 24 on the first day.
This was clearly the big difference in the two days’ scores of 62 and 73.
“I practiced hard last week and especially honed my putting,” Buhai said Thursday after her best score yet in the LPGA series.
Buhai had an excellent season before her back injury.
Apart from her victory in the SA Open on Steenberg in March, she also won the ShopRite Classic in New Jersey in June.
She also boasts six top ten performances and appears to be firmly on track to add another to her list of performances.
*American Beau Hossler shot a solid score of 65 (-5) on the Accorda Narashino course in windy conditions on Friday to take the lead after the second round of the PGA Series’ Zozo Championship in Japan.
Hossler is at -7 at the top of the leaderboard and enjoys a one-shot lead over his compatriot Justin Suh, who posted scores of 68 and 66 over the first two days on his scorecard.
Japan’s Satoshi Kodairo is at -5 in third place after playing scores of 67 and 68, followed by three players, including Xander Schauffele, at -4 in fourth place.
The leader after the first round, the American Ryder Cup player Collin Morikawa, struggled in the wind and had to settle for a disappointing 73. He is now at -3 in joint seventh position.
*In Spain in the DP World series, the Englishman James Morrison finished the first round of the Andalucia Masters tournament as the leader.
On Thursday, Morrison completed a great score of 64 (-8) on his scorecard for a one-shot lead.
The German Nick Bachem (65) and the Spaniard Adrian Otaegui (66) are the players closest to Morrison.
South Africa has a large number of players in the field with Zander Lombard and Louis de Jager who performed the best and with scores of 68 (-4) share the sixth position.
Two more SA players finished the first day among the top 20. They are Deon Germishuys and Ockie Strydom who were eighteenth on the leaderboard at 70.