In Gee Chun

Korea’s In Gee Chun produced a round of 66 (-5) to climb to the top of the leaderboard at the halfway stage of the AIG Women’s Open.

The three-time Major champion made the most of the afternoon conditions making two birdies and one bogey on her front nine before rolling in four birdies on her back nine to reach a total of eight-under-par.

And Chun, who leads by one shot, has a goal for the two rounds over the weekend thanks to caddie Dean Herden which is to go bogey-free.

“Before I started the tournament, my caddie Dean and I spoke about the course and after that, we had a little bit of a bet,” she said.

“If I make the bogey-free round, he said he’s going to buy dinner and pay me like $100 for each day if I can make it. So, before I start the round, I always set another goal to make a bogey-free round. I think that mindset helped a lot on the course.

“But I hit two bogeys over the last two days. I want to keep trying to make a bogey-free round over the next two days.”

And Chun was thankful for the weather conditions on the 13th when she rolled a birdie putt to the edge of the hole and after a few seconds, it finally dropped in.

She added: “We have a big wind out there, but I have a great reason of why to love the Scottish now because my ball was sitting on the edge of the hole today, and after like three seconds it dropped in. Now I can enjoy Scottish greens.”

Sweden’s Madelene Sagström and South Africa’s Ashleigh Buhai sit one shot back in a tie for second place on seven-under-par.

It was an excellent day for three-time LET winner Buhai after she made the turn in 30 (-6) with four birdies and one eagle on her scorecard.

Another birdie rolled in on the 11th before the South African dropped a shot on her final hole of the day but has still firmly put herself into contention heading into the weekend.

“I’m super chuffed with how I played today. I stayed very patient,” she said. “I stuck with my steps and my processes, which is my goal this week, just to do those well and hopefully the outcome takes care of itself.

“I’ve been doing that pretty well the last few weeks and obviously I’m disappointed to end with a bogey. On 18, I hit it in the fairway and the divot was softer than I thought, so a little unlucky but I would have taken today’s score at the beginning of the day for sure.

“I do love playing links golf. This is my favourite tournament of the year. I look forward to it, and I love links golf and the creativity that you have to have.”

It is an historic week with Muirfield hosting the AIG Women’s Open for the first time, but Buhai’s hero growing up and fellow South African Ernie Els took home The Open Championship title here in 2002.

She explained: “I know Ernie [Els] won here and even we were playing in our practise round, and I said to my caddie, let’s see how Ernie hit the shot. I was YouTubing it while we were out there, his famous bunker shot.

“I haven’t spoken to him about playing here but I’m now living full-time in Florida, and I got to play with him, and he was my hero growing up. It’s pretty cool to be able to play well for the first two rounds here and try to follow in his footsteps.”

Sagström rolled in eight birdies during her round of 65 (-6), which was the joint-best of the day along with Buhai, and said putting was the key to her round.

“Putting,” she said. “Putting, putting, putting. I did miss two quite short putts, but I putted really, really well today and that helped my momentum.

“I was hitting it good enough to give myself some chances and keeping it in play. I didn’t hit in the bunkers today which helps in links golf but putting was the thing.”

Korea’s Inbee Park sits in fourth place on six-under having shot a round of 67 (-4) on day three with Japan’s Miyuu Yamashita and Australia’s Hannah Green one shot further back in T5.

France’s Celine Boutier is in a share of seventh place on four-under-par alongside Australian pair Minjee Lee and Steph Kyriacou, as well as 2019 AIG Women’s Open champion Hinako Shibuno.

The cut fell at +3 with 65 players making it through to the final two rounds at Muirfield.

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