Women’s Open: Pioneer garden gets chance to shine as Buhai walks away | Women’s Open

The latest proof that we live in extraordinary times when it comes to Muirfield and her approach to female golfers came Saturday morning at the Women’s Open. Lindsey Garden, one of the first women to be a member of the Honorable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, played alongside Lydia Hall up front in the third round.

Not so long ago, the very concept of women among them was considered offensive by the HCEG. Not only is the game of this major here a defining moment, but Garden front and center shows just how much things have seemingly changed in this corner of East Lothian. With an odd number of players making the cut, Garden was called upon to keep Hall company. She will feature again in the fourth round unless someone opts out.

“It’s fantastic,” said Garden, a former Scotland internationalist who holds a 1.6 handicap, of her Muirfield membership. “I’ve been a member for a year and it’s been a great year since I’ve been a member knowing that we’re hosting the Women’s Open. There was a lot of preparation for that. There have been some really fun things about it, media days, interviews with various media talking about what it’s like to be a female member of Muirfield. It is the same as for a man. We are equal.

Yet it took until 2017 and a second vote for that to become the case. Even then, only 80% of members who participated in the survey agreed with a change in criteria.

Garden admitted to feeling “very nervous” before her first tee shot but the script was not delivered at the last minute. “I knew that for a few weeks,” she said. “There was talk that if there was an odd number I would be the scorer. So it wasn’t totally unexpected. I played well. I didn’t embarrass myself from the 1st tee. I hit the ball well but the putting could have been better.

Ashley Buhai became the favorite after a superb first nine on Saturday. Photograph: Jane Barlow/PA

“The course is fantastic, isn’t it? The course looks awesome so I think all the girls love to play on our course. That’s what we want, just that opportunity to play here like the men have had for years and years.

That Ashleigh Buhai hit 12 under after nine holes of her third round put a number of players out of the tournament. The South African is looking to make up for a missed chance, having conceded a three-stroke lead after two rounds of the Women’s Open at Woburn in 2019. Buhai played her opening nine for five under. She reached minus 13 with another birdie at the 10th. At that time, she was a clear four.

Charley Hull’s 69, which included an eagle on the 17th, moved her to three under with Lydia Ko one stroke further after a 70. Hull refused to count herself on day four. “Anything can happen,” she said.

“I will never forget the first professional event I won. I was 17. I shot nine under the last round to get into the playoffs and won, so you never know.

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“I’m happy. I’ve never done really well on the links course. So I think I can have a low tomorrow. You never know what’s going on on a golf course.

“I really think I had the worst side of the draw. Late the first day and early morning yesterday. The wind dropped in the afternoon yesterday. I’m just kissing it and have fun.

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