Shibuno grabs lead at Women’s British Open on dream debut


MILTON KEYNES, England (AP) – Hinako Shibuno’s dream debut continued Saturday in the Women’s British Open when she shot a 5-under 67 to take a two-stroke lead into the final round.

The 20-year-old Shibuno, a rookie on the Japan LPGA Tour who is making her LPGA Tour and major championship debut, birdied six of the final holes in the round to get to 14-under 202.

“It’s definitely exceeding my expectations,” said Shibuno, nicknamed Smiling Cinderella. “I came in wanting to make the cut, so right now I feel like I’m doing something very incredible.”

Overnight leader Ashleigh Buhai started with a three-shot lead at Woburn Golf Club and stretched it to five when Shibuno bogeyed Nos. 5 and 9.

“I was pretty upset after the three-putt bogey on the ninth,” Shibuno said. “But after the second shot on the 10th hole, I was able to bring myself back.”

Buhai stumbled with three bogeys in five holes. The 30-year-old South African, who has never won on the LPGA Tour, had a 72 to drop to second at 12 under.

“I played my first nine holes probably the best ball-striking I could have had. Hit really good shots,” Buhai said. “Turned 2 under, birdied my 10th to go to 3- nder and hit two poor wedge shots on 11 and 12, normally my strong point. Let the three-putt rattle me on No. 12.

“I’m still here, two shots behind going into the final round playing in the final group. If you told me at the beginning of the week, I would have taken it.”

Second-ranked Sung Hyun Park was another shot back after a bogey-free 68.

Top-ranked Jin Young Ko and Americans Morgan Pressel and Lizette Salas were tied for fourth on 10 under. Ko (68) is seeking her third major title of the year after winning the Evian Championship last week in France. Pressel had a 66, and Salas shot 70.

Defending champion Georgia Hall was 10 shots back after a 74.

Japan’s Hinako Shibuno hits a shot during the AIG Women’s British Open golf championship at Woburn Gold Club near near Milton Keynes, England, Saturday, Aug. 3, 2019. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland)