Returning from a five week break from playing due to a back injury flareup, Ashleigh Buhai recorded a new career-best 18-hole score of 62 to hold the 18-hole lead for the second time in her Tour career at the BMW Ladies Championship, and also broke the previous 18-hole tournament scoring record. The South African, who already has a win under her belt this season from the ShopRite LPGA Classic, carded 10 birdies on the day, the most of anyone of the first round.
“My wedge play was really solid today. I mean, I hit every time and just about had a wedge in my hand, I hit it to a couple feet. So I didn't have to think too hard on those putts. But then I rolled the ball really well too,” said Buhai. “When I didn't hit it too close, the ones that didn't go in burnt the edges. So I felt all round of my game is in a good place at the moment.”
Buhai credited her play in part to being able to take the forced five-week break away from competition, and though she’s still recovering from injury, this day of “boring golf” was an impressive first step back to feeling confident in her game in the Republic of Korea.
“I've had one week of practice coming into here. And my goal for this week was to play with no expectations, and that's often when you try to play well in a game,” said Buhai. “My coach came into Florida last week, we worked on three things, and I've just tried to stick to doing those three things.”
Alison Lee tied her career-low 18 hole score after shooting a 9-under 63 to sit in solo second one shot off Buhai’s lead.
“I feel like my game is in a really good place. I'm striking the ball really well. I feel really good about my swing. Just something that's been lacking over the last year has been the putting,” said the American. “And so today I was just making the putts I wanted to make. And it was a lot of fun for me out there, being able to shoot 9-under. I think that's tying my record for lowest round out here in tournament play on Tour. So I'm really happy with that.”
Japan's Ayaka Furue and Australia's Minjee Lee sit in a tie for third after shooting 8-under 64s. Lee was just 3-under through 14 holes until she took advantage of the par-5 15th, carding her seventh eagle of the season. She followed up the eagle with three-consecutive birdies in her closing holes to card her seventh round in the 60s dating back to the Kroger Queen City Championship.
“I bogeyed the par-3, the hole before the par-5, so I was like I really just want to make a birdie to get back. So, I mean, I had a really good number in. I had 204 meters to the pin. So it was a really well-struck 5-wood, and I just pitched on the front and then rolled about -- probably about 27 -- like 9 meters, like 27 feet,” said Lee. “I had a pretty good -- I mean, I read it great, and it went in. So, yeah, it was nice to see it drop.”
England's Jodi Ewart Shadoff, Sweden's Maja Stark, Korea's Hae Ran Ryu and China's Ruoning Yin sit in a tie for fifth at 7-under, with Ryu the lowest Korean of the field through the first day.