(Reuters) - South African Ashleigh Buhai continued to find herself in uncharted territory, extending her lead to three strokes after the second round at the Women’s British Open in Milton Keynes on Friday.
She compiled a bogey-free five-under-par 67 at Woburn to head a leaderboard that included players from seven countries in the top eight.
Buhai, having never led a major before this week and without a top-25 finish, posted a 12-under 132 halfway total.
Japan’s Hinako Shibuno shot 69 for second place on nine-under, with American Lizette Salas (67) another shot back in third.
Buhai, 30, is trying to deal with the pressure by treating the championship as just another week in the office.
“I’m trying not to keep thinking it’s a major,” she said.
“It’s something I’ve been working on the last few weeks, because I’ve been under the gun, whether it be making the cut or having three good rounds and one bad round.
“My focus is just trying to keep my tension the same, whether I’m putting, hitting (because) that’s something I can control.”
Shibuno, 20, in her first LPGA appearance, showcased to an international audience the skills that have garnered her two Japan LPGA victories this year.
Salas birdied the first four holes to challenge for the lead but could add only one more the rest of the way.
Local favourite Charley Hull was tied for fourth on her home course, five shots behind.
Far from enjoying the gallery support, Hull sounded ambivalent.
“I sometimes like being the underdog,” she said. “When I play Solheim (Cup) I prefer playing in America, where the crowd’s cheering against you.”
Compatriot and defending champion Georgia Hall and last week’s Evian Championship major winner Ko Jin-young of South Korea were six back.
Seven-times major champion Park In-bee and former world number ones Ryu So-yeon and Lydia Ko were among those who missed the cut.
Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; editing by Pritha Sarkar