Last year’s AIG Women’s Open winner Ashleigh Buhai has put herself in the conversation with 18 holes to play at the Cognizant Founders Cup, firing a 4-under 68 on Moving Day to sit in a tie for fourth at 8-under. Starting the day tied for 13th at 4-under, Buhai got off to a fast start with a birdie on the par-4 first hole, quickly erasing that effort with a double bogey on No. 3. She recovered quickly with a birdie on the next, and after rattling off consecutive pars on holes 5 through 8, she grabbed another birdie on the par-5 ninth to move to 5-under overall. Buhai made back-to-back birdies on Nos. 11 and 12, carding one more on the par-5 14th hole to grind out a 68, an impressive recovery from what could’ve been a disastrous start.
“I hit a great shot on my first hole, and to be honest, the double I hit a really good shot. Was just in the semi rough. Came out slightly heavy and just didn't make the carry,” said Buhai. “I wasn't really upset with myself because I felt I made going to swing. I just said, listen you're swinging it good. Just keep doing what you're doing. So I didn't let it rattle me, which I think was very helpful for the rest of the round.”
This is Buhai’s eighth start of the 2023 LPGA Tour season and so far, she’s recorded three top-10s, the best being a solo seventh in March at the HSBC Women’s World Championship. It’s the second time this year that she’s been within five of the lead entering the final round, the last time being at The Chevron Championship where Buhai ultimately finished T18. While Buhai is four back of leader Minjee Lee and will likely need to do something special on Sunday at Upper Montclair Country Club to have a chance at her second LPGA Tour victory, the 34-year-old veteran says she’s not looking to chase, instead choosing to stay patient and let the golf course – and the birdies – just come to her.
“I'm not going to try and chase because I feel particularly on this golf course if you try to chase then mistakes will happen,” Buhai said of her Sunday strategy. “So (I will) stay patient and hopefully hole one or two more putts. To be honest, I was surprised when I stood on I think 16 and I saw where I was on the leaderboard. I was like, oh, okay. Top five. This is good. Shows that what I'm doing by staying patient is working.”