GETTING TO KNOW HINAKO SHIBUNO
The last two days have been quite a debut on the international golf stage for Japan’s Hinako Shibuno, who sits second at -9, three strokes behind leader Ashleigh Buhai. The 20-year-old native of Okayama Prefecture (on the southern end of Honshu Island) is in her rookie year on the JLPGA Tour, having spent 2018 on its developmental Step Up Tour. In May, she won the World Ladies Championship Salonpas Cup, a major on the JLPGA Tour, and added a second victory in July at the Shiseido Anessa Ladies Open.
The AIG Women’s British Open marks Shibuno’s first time competing outside her native country. She admitted to assuming that Woburn Golf Club was a links course, although the parkland layout has certainly suited her game. Shibuno has made easy work of Woburn while using an interesting swing that sees her turn her double-jointed arms nearly fully around. She proudly displayed this anatomical feat to the assembled media after her round and flashed a brilliant smile while sharing her very appropriate Japanese nickname.
“They call me Smiling Cinderella. I'm always smiling.”
CELINE BOUTIER LEARNS FROM MAJOR EXPERIENCE
The final round of the 2019 U.S. Women’s Open could have been a crowning achievement for France’s Celine Boutier. The 25-year-old, who became a Rolex First-Time winner in February at the ISPS Handa Vic Open, started the final round tied for the lead but finished with a final-round 75 to fall into a tie for fifth. While the title slipped through her fingers, Boutier still sees positives from that week in South Carolina.
“Just having to experience that is always very helpful,” said Boutier, who won the 2014 NCAA National Championship with Duke University. “It was my first time, so you learn how to handle yourself in those situations, how to handle the pressure and pretty much manage yourself emotionally throughout the round, so hopefully that will help me this week.”
Boutier is in good position heading into the weekend at the AIG Women’s British Open, returning a bogey-free 66 on Friday to move into in a tie for fourth at -7. Should she take the win on Sunday, she would join Patricia Meunier-Lebouc (2003 ANA Inspiration) and Catherine Lacoste (1967 U.S. Women’s Open) as Frenchwomen to capture a major title.
Rolex Rankings No. 123 Ashleigh Buhai (65-67)
- Buhai’s 132 is tied for the best 36-hole score of her LPGA Tour career; she also shot 132 at the 201 Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G
- Buhai has held LPGA Tour Membership since 2008; her best finish is second at the 2017 Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic
- This is Buhai’s 18th event of the 2019 LPGA Tour season; her best finish is a tie for 11th at the Pure Silk Championship presented by Visit Williamsburg
- She is competing in her 12th AIG Women’s British Open; her best finish is a tie for 30th in 2017 at Kingsbarns, while she tied for 47th at the 2016 championship held at Woburn
- She spent 2010 to 2013 on the Ladies European Tour, where she has three career victories
- Buhai represented South Africa at the 2016 Summer Olympics, where she finished 50th
Rolex Rankings No. 46 Hinako Shibuno (66-69)
- Shibuno is playing in her first AIG Women’s British Open and first-ever LPGA Tour event
- She is a 20-year-old rookie on the JLPGA; she has two victories on that tour in 2019, including a major win at the World Ladies Championship Salonpas Cup
- Shibuno is trying to become the second Japanese player to win a women’s major championship, joining Chako Higuchi, who won the 1977 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship
Rolex Rankings No. 28 Lizette Salas (69-67)
- Salas’ second-round 67 ties her best round at the AIG Women’s British Open; she also shot 67 in the fourth round of the 2017 championship at Kingsbarns
- Her 136 is the best 36-hole score at the AIG Women’s British Open; her previous best was 139 in 2017
- Salas is in her eighth season on the LPGA Tour; she won the 2014 Kingsmill Championship
- This is Salas’ 18th event of the 2019 LPGA Tour season; her best finish is a tie for fifth at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship
- She is competing in her sixth AIG Women’s British Open; she has never missed the cut, with a best finish of sixth in her championship debut in 2013 on the Old Course at St. Andrews
11 countries are represented in the top 20 – Australia, Canada, England, France, Germany, Japan, the Republic of Korea, South Africa, Spain, Thailand and the United States of America
Notables to miss the cut include major champions Paula Creamer, Laura Davies, Shanshan Feng, Eun-Hee Ji, Cristie Kerr, Lydia Ko, Stacy Lewis, Pernilla Lindberg, Catriona Matthew, Inbee Park,So Yeon Ryu and Karrie Webb
TV TIMES (all times Eastern)
Aug. 3 – 7-11 a.m. (Golf Channel), 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. (NBC)
Aug. 4 – 7-11:30 a.m. (Golf Channel), 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. (NBC)