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AS IT STANDS -14 Buhai; -9 Shibuno, Chun; -7 Park, Sagstrom; -5 Lee SELECTED OTHERS –4 Henderson, Thitikul; -2 Maguire; -1 Hall; E J. Korda; +1 Duncan; +3 N. Korda, Kupcho; +8 Dryburgh

Ashleigh Buhai grabbed the AIG Women’s Open by the scruff of the neck and put herself in pole position for major glory.

The South African’s sensational Saturday delivered an eight-under 64, opening up a five-shot lead with one day to go at Muirfield.

Big things were predicted for Buhai in her early days, but so far she has failed to convert promise into major glory. However, that could be about to change.

With five birdies in the opening seven holes, the 33-year-old – who had also had the round of the day on Friday to sit tied for second at the halfway stage – wasted no time in putting the pressure on the others at the top.

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One of the highlights came at 17. Having put her third through the back on the par-five, Buhai promptly drained the chip for a birdie.

The only blemish came at the last, frustratingly the only black mark on an otherwise clean card. But it was an outstanding day for Buhai, one which makes her the firm favourite.

“It was great to be able to play well on moving day,” she told Sky Sports.

“I tried to stay focused and do what I did the last two days. I did it very well today.

“Over every shot I had my key thoughts, and that’s all I’m telling myself. ‘Rhythm, rhythm, rhythm’ – that was it.

“It’s great,” she added when asked about emulating Ernie Els by winning at Muirfield.

“I got a voice note from Gary Player this morning and he’s also won here. It’s good signs and it’s good luck for South Africans.”

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In Gee Chun, who had led overnight, found things tougher on Saturday but remains in the mix after a level-par 71. She is one joined by Hinako Shibuno, who led the way after round one and roared back on day three.

Of the home favourites, Louise Duncan had a tough day, shooting three-over to drop back to one-over for the week. Gemma Dryburgh also found things difficult, her 77 dropping her back to eight-over.

But it was Buhai’s day in East Lothian, and she will enter Sunday with victory within her grasp.

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