Aug 3rd, 2019
Fairy tale Women’s British Open
For 'Smiling Cinderella' Shibuno
Words: GolfPunk Photography: Getty Images, GolfPunk
She is only 20, has never played a major championship or even played outside Japan until this week and now Hinako Shibuno finds herself leading the Women’s British Open at Woburn. She takes a two-shot lead into the Sunday but there is plenty of talent queuing up behind her should she slip up on the final day.
Out in the final group with overnight leader, Ashleigh Buhai of South Africa, Shibuno was six behind at the turn following a bogey at the 9th hole to be out in a one-over 37. The back nine was a whole different story as the Japanese star produced six birdies to shoot a back nine of 30 for the second time this week. Her round of 67 took her to fourteen under par and two clear of the field.
"I'm definitely exceeding my expectations," said the ever smiling Shibuno after her round. "I think I am doing something incredible."
Buhai meanwhile who had started so well, with three birdies in the first ten holes started to feel the pressure of leading a major. Having looked in command with a five shot lead at one point, three bogies from the 12th tee took her backwards as Shibuno charged by. A level par round left her two shots back from the leader but still well in contention come Sunday.
Lurking ominously behind Buhai are the world’s number one and two, the South Korean pairing of Jin Young Ko and Sung Hyun Park. Ko, already a two times major winner in 2019, including last week’s Evian Championship, shot a 68 without looking like she even got out of second gear, sits four back from Shibuno on ten under. Park, who is challenging for the world number one spot also shot a 68 and lies one shot better than her countrywoman.
Alongside Jin Young Ko on ten under are the American pairing of Morgan Pressel and Lizette Salas. Pressel equalled the best round of the week with a six under 66 which included eight birdies, including four in the last five holes. With the Solheim Cup looming up she will be looking to press her claim for a spot with a good performance on the final day.
It was a mixed day for the English trio of Georgia Hall, Charley Hull and Bronte Law. Hall looked a little out of sorts and never recovered from a sloppy double bogey at the par four 9th hole. She finished with a 74 to sit on four under ten back from the leader.
Charley Hull was drawing the crowds once again but struggled through the front nine with bogeys at the 2nd and 8th holes. However, just when it looked like she might be heading in the same direction as Hall she found her form on the back nine. Three consecutive birdies from the 11th followed by another at the 15th helped Hull to a round of 70 and a nine under total.
"I didn't play too badly on the front nine, but then really got it going," Hull commented when asked about her round. "I have so many people out here supporting me and I am pleased I could play well for them."
Bronte Law’s own round of 70 was in contrast to that of Hull. Law was bogey free but struggled to get the pace of the greens, only managing birdies at the 11th and 14th holes. She sits alongside Charley Hull and Carlota Ciganda of Spain who somewhat ruined her round with a careless double bogey at the final hole.
Law has incredibly gone 54 holes without a bogey and so if she can find her putting boots must surely feature come the final nine holes on Sunday.
And another thing...