MILTON KEYNES, England — South Africa's Ashleigh Buhai fired a 7-under 65 on Thursday, Aug. 1, to take the first-round lead at the AIG Women's British Open, the LPGA's fifth and final major championship of 2019.
Buhai carded eight birdies and one bogey on the Marquess Course at Woburn Golf Club to take a one-shot lead over Danielle Kang and Japan's Honako Shibuno, who both shot 66.
"Very steady through the first 10 holes, for sure," said Buhai, an 11-year tour veteran who is still seeking her first LPGA title.
"When we played here three years ago I did play well, I had good memories from that week and coming back to Woburn ... we've played pretty similar courses the last few weeks, soft conditions, I was able to fire at the pins and just hole a lot of good putts."
Buhai finished tied for 47th place in 2016, when Thailand's Ariya Jutanugarn won the championship.
"In general, I like the way it sets up on my eye, especially off the tee," added Buhai, who has four career top-10 finishes and whose best finish this season is a tie for 11th. "I feel like I can work the ball both ways when I need to, and the greens are funneling into a lot of pin placements, so you can play to the big side of the green and let it funnel in."
Four players are knotted at 4 under including American Megan Khang, Thailand's Moriya Jutanugarn, Englishwoman and Woburn member Charley Hull and South Korea's Sung Hyun Park.
The 2016 champ, Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand, is among three players tied for eighth place at 4 under along with Jeongeun Lee6, the reigning U.S. Women's Open champion, and Jin Young Ko, the winner of last week's Evian Championship and the newly minted Rolex Rankings No. 1.
Ko is not only after her third major title this season after also winning the ANA Inspiration in April, but gunning for the Rolex Annika Major Award, which will be determined this week and is given to the player with the season's most outstanding major championship performance. A win would make Ko just the fifth LPGA player to win three majors in a single year and the first since Inbee Park in 2013.
Defending champion Georgia Hall, who became the fourth Englishwoman to capture their country's national title last year at Royal Lytham and St. Annes, is among 10 players tied for 11th at 3 under. Hall looks to become the first player to successfully defend her title since Yani Tseng in 2010 and 2011.
No. 3 Lexi Thompson, competing for a fourth consecutive week, shot 1-under 71 and is tied for 32nd.
Of note, the field features 14 Englishwomen, including Dame Laura Davies, who is playing in her 39th AIG Women's British Open. Davies shot a 10-over 82 and stands in last place.