Share on: [addtoany buttons='facebook,twitter,email']

4th December 2023 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Buhai doubles up Aussie Open crowns

South African Ashleigh Buhai successfully defended her ISPS Handa Australian Open title on Sunday, securing a one-stroke win over Aussie crowd favourite, Minjee Lee.

Buhai carried a three-stroke lead into the final round, but the lead was only a single stroke over Lee by the time they arrived on the 18th tee.

In breezy conditions at The Australian in Sydney’s east, Buhai was shaky throughout her fourth round. She didn’t make a single birdie on her way to a three-over 75, and had to sweat over a tricky three-footer for par on the 18th to seal the win.

Lee carded a three-under 69 on her way to second place.

“To be honest, I wasn’t feeling the pressure,” Buhai said. “I knew Minjee would come at me today, but the conditions were so tough. I just kind of said, ‘hit it to your spaces, play par golf, make them catch you’.”

Buhai gave Lee a big sniff when she hit her second shot on the 17th hole into the water., but Lee was unable to fully capitalise and only made par to the South African’s bogey.

“It was just crazy how (that shot) got stuck up in the wind, I really couldn’t believe it,” Buhai said.

But the tension didn’t end there. Buhai had about six metres on the 18th green, but left herself a tricky downhill three-foot putt to save par and seal the win.

Written by Mike Green | SA Tour Golf
Photo courtesy of Australian Open Golf.

15th June 2023 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Buhai lifts Shoprite LPGA Classic title

12 June 2023 – As she entered her 30s, Ashleigh Buhai was frustrated with consistently contending but never winning on the LPGA Tour. There was nothing wrong with her swing, so she began working with a mental coach.

Now at the cusp of 35 on a tour dominated by players a decade or more younger, the reigning AIG British Women’s Open champion is playing the best golf of her career.

Buhai seized the lead early with four birdies in her first five holes, got up and down for one last birdie for a six-under 65 and held off Hyo Joo Kim for a one-shot victory in the ShopRite LPGA Classic on Sunday.

“I had a really good amateur career and was going to be the next best thing out of South Africa, but that’s golf; it’s just not like that all the time,” Buhai said. “I kept plugging away. I have a good support system around me, which I think is the most important thing.”

It was the fourth win worldwide over the past 10 months for Buhai, who finished at 14-under 199 in the 54-hole event on the Bay Course at Seaview. Buhai won her first Major last August, added the Australian Women’s Open in December 2022 and won her fourth Investec South African Women’s Open title in March. She entered the week ranked 16th in the world and by Wednesday, she had risen to a career-high 12th.

At 34 years, 11 months, Buhai is the oldest winner this year on the LPGA Tour.

“It’s huge. I won a Major, which counts as a LPGA Tour win, but one of my big goals this year was to win here on US soil. I hadn’t won here yet, and I’m very proud of myself for ticking it off my bucket list,” Buhai said.

Buhai recalled a visit from long-time swing coach Doug Wood in October 2021 as the start of her turnaround. Wood couldn’t find any issues with her mechanics and put her in touch with mental coach Duncan McCarthy.

“I think I’ve also got to a point where I’m older in my career. Felt I should have achieved more by then and the pressure I was putting on myself. Again, I’m 34, so wanting to have a family,” Buhai said. “These things sit in the back of our minds that nobody really knows about and you don’t realize what havoc it plays back there. COVID, not being able to go back to South Africa, see my friends and family was also really tough.

“So we kind of tapped into all that, really got Ashleigh, the person, feeling better again.”

Playing in the penultimate pairing, Buhai began the day three shots behind leader Dani Holmqvist. By the time she rolled in a long birdie from off the back of the green on the par-four fifth hole, she led by one over Kim.

“Obviously I got off to such a good start, and the putt on five was a hallelujah,” Buhai said. “Those things need to happen for you to win, obviously.”

Kim, in the final pairing, birdied the par-three 17th to give herself a chance, but she needed to eagle the par-five 18th to match Buhai and could only manage birdie. She shot 68.

Behind Buhai, Paula Reto closed with a 69 for a share of 22nd and Lee-Anne Pace had a 71 to finish in a share of 30th.

– third turn in the winner’s circle for Ash Buhai since becoming a Rolex First Time winner and major champion at the 2022 AIG Women’s Open. Other wins include the Australian Women’s Open in December 2022 and the Investec South African Women’s Open in March 2023.
– only player to have won on both the LPGA Tour and the LET this season
– second South African with multiple LPGA Tour wins, following Sally Little (15)
– oldest winner of the 2023 LPGA Tour season at 34 years and 11 months old
– earned 19 top-10 finishes in her career and 6 this season
– first South African to win the ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer
– represented South Africa at the 2016 Olympics, finishing 50th

Ladies European Tour: 5
Sunshine Ladies Tour: 12
Women’s PGA Tour of Australasia: 1

With her win, Buhai earns 500 points and climbed from 13th to fourth in the Race to the CME Globe and reached a career-high 12th in the Rolex Women’s Golf Rankings. She has earned $740,919 this season and $4,352,359 in her career.

Eight cuts made in 10 events played with one victory and five top-10 finishes

Written by AP and edited by Lali Stander | Issued by the LPGA Tour and the Sunshine Ladies Tour

23rd May 2023 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Buhai takes 3rd in Founders Cup on LPGA Tour

Ashleigh Buhai’s closing two-under-par 70 on Sunday saw her finish just outside the play-off in third place in the LPGA Tour’s Cognizant Founders Cup at Upper Montclair Country Club in Clifton, New Jersey.

Buhai’s performance came with four bogeys too, as she made six birdies to move to 10-under-par for the tournament. That was three strokes out of the play-off between Minjee Lee of Australia and Korea’s Jin Young Ko, which was won by Ko. Buhai finished two shots clear of Hae Ran Ryo of Korea in fourth place, with Atthaya Thitikul of Thailand, Aditi Ashok of India and American Angel Yin in a share of fifth on seven-under.

“I hit it so well today,” said Buhai. “You know, it’s hard to say, but I guess I’m disappointed with third place. I hit a lot of good putts that just didn’t drop, so I can’t really say that it was a cold putter. But I think very proud of still the way I played. To make six birdies in the conditions today when I look back is pretty good.”

It was Buhai’s fourth top-10 of the season as she seeks to build on a stellar 2022. “I know that when it all comes together, I’m going to have a chance to win again,” she said. “I’ve got to stay patient and not reinvent the wheel, and I know what I am doing is right and I just need to trust the process.”

Written by Mike Green |

19th March 2023 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

South Africans shine in Sunshine Ladies Tour’s season yet

19 March 2023 – While England’s Lily May Humphreys won the 2023 Investec Order of Merit in the 10th season of the Sunshine Ladies Tour, three South Africans finished in the top five, underscoring the importance of the burgeoning circuit for local players.

Humphreys played all six tournaments, won one, had four other top 10s, and her worst finish was in the Investec South African Women’s Open Championship at Steenberg Golf Club when she shared 24th.

South Africa’s Casandra Alexander played four, won two – the SuperSport Ladies Challenge and Jabra Ladies Classic – and a share of seventh at Steenberg saw her finish second in the rankings, within striking distance of Humphreys at the end.

The other South Africans who rounded out the top five were Sunshine Ladies Tour rookie Kaleigh Telfer, who had three top-10s as she successfully mixed it up with the best players from Europe, and veteran Lee-Anne Pace, who did everything but win with four top-10s.

In a nice little bit of symmetry, the two other South Africans inside the top 10 of the Order of Merit were rookie Kiera Floyd in ninth with two top-10s, and the more experienced Nicole Garcia in 10th place, who also had two top-10s.

“It’s pretty cool to win the Investec Order of Merit,” said Humphreys. “I’m pretty happy about it. It’s been as good as I’ve played. It’s been a lot of golf, a lot of different golf courses, and different weather pretty much every week. I’ve really enjoyed it out here.

“I ran out of steam a little towards the end. It wasn’t my best golf over the last few days at Steenberg, but I’ll just reset and get ready for what lies ahead. I’ll definitely come back and play these events again. I’ll have to see how the schedule looks because I’m a winner now. I’ll have a full schedule on the Ladies European Tour, which is pretty exciting.”

And this is exactly the pathway which makes the Sunshine Ladies Tour such an important route for budding professionals.

Humphreys got her win in the Joburg Open, co-sanctioned between Africa’s premier women’s professional circuit and the Ladies European Tour. It was the fifth event of the 10th season and she had played her way into a position to win and leapfrog her way into the big time.

And while it was AIG Women’s Open champion Ashleigh Buhai who won the other co-sanctioned tournament, Telfer was able to convert her top-five finish in the Investec South African Women’s Open into a start on the main Ladies European Tour circuit with a place in the Aramco Team Series-Singapore the following week.

That is a stepping stone which could be decisive in her budding professional career.

Buhai talked about the importance of the local tour ahead of her victory at Steenberg: “Obviously it’s fantastic to see how it’s grown, how the sponsors are starting to support women’s golf in South Africa. And you can see it in the trends in women’s golf around the world. All prize purses are starting to increase.

“I think it’s so important to have these events for the local girls to be able to compete in, so they play on better courses, with a stricter set up that compares well with the international circuits, and in stronger fields so that they know when they’re ready to take that next step and where they really need to be.

“With six events on the tour now, I think there’s space for growth. I think if we could get it to double figures at least would be great. And also not just to have the circuit from February through April, but to extend it. They need to play all year-round to prepare better for the next level. Maybe two a month at least. We understand that the purses might not be what it is in these big events, but it’s more just about being able to play, getting that game time.

“It doesn’t matter how much money you’re playing for, or how big or small the tournament is. When you’re in that moment, it doesn’t matter. It’s the same pressure of you trying to win a golf tournament.”

The groundwork for growth has been laid. The women played for R1.075-million 10 years ago, and for over R16-million this year on the Sunshine Ladies Tour. The six tournaments are all big in their own right, and the way forward is clear. Roll on 2024!

11th March 2023 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Buhai takes Investec SA Women’s Open with a victory lap

11 March 2023 – She savoured the applause during the walk on to the 18th green at Steenberg Golf Club on Saturday, and Ashleigh Buhai rewarded the crowd gathered there with a birdie to clinch the Investec South African Women’s Open Championship by a four-stroke margin.

In the end, the final round of Buhai’s fourth national title was something of a victory lap, as she started the day with a four-stroke edge.

Her four-under-par 68 to finish the Sunshine Ladies Tour and Ladies European Tour’s co-sanctioned tournament meant the gap was still four after runner-up Ana Pelaez Trivino of Spain also carded a 68.

“I’m over the moon, obviously,” said Buhai. “Ecstatic to have gotten the job done. My goal was to come here and win this week. I tried to play it down, because I know it’s a lot of pressure and it was going to be difficult to do. But now that I’ve got it over the line, I’m really happy.”

It hardly mattered that Buhai, the reigning AIG Women’s Open champion, dropped two shots in three holes down the finishing stretch, because she made five birdies on her front nine as her lead stretched to as much as seven at one point.

“It was great to start with a birdie on one, especially after making bogey there yesterday,” said Buhai. “I had good putts on two and three, and then made three in a row on four, five and six, and I just kept it going. And it was a good putt on nine for that birdie too.

While the bogeys may have irritated Buhai on some deeply personal level, the reality is that she had done the heavy lifting in the first two round, and was able to do enough thereafter to simply preserve her lead for the rest of a week which was something of a celebratory homecoming.

“On the back nine, I hit good shots, but I was kind of in between yardages,” she said, “and the wind got a little bit trickier. But luckily I had that big lead, and I could just hit it to the space on the greens and take my two putts. They had to come chasing and I did what I had to do to get the job done.”

After her putter seemed to have mutinied during the second round, Buhai took it on herself to put it in its place by hitting what seemed like every approach shot on the front nine to inside a few feet. While the big putts which took her clear of the field in the first two rounds were missing from her repertoire, she wasn’t too fussed. “I have my routine on the greens, and I have found that following that every time rather than worrying about whether the putt goes in calms me down a lot, and the results will come from the familiarity of that routine.”

Trivino took her second runner-up result in a row after she finished in a share of second in last week’s Joburg Open, and it was achieved by brave play throughout. “I felt really good this week and last week,” she said. “We’re making sure that every area is covered and then just go out there and have fun. Luckily, we’re playing good golf and we can enjoy it even more. I’m going to take everything to next week and hopefully get that win. I like runner-up finishes, but I’d rather have the trophy with me!”

In third after a closing three-under-par 69 was German teenager Chiara Noja, who, like Buhai, was hit by the stomach bug which hit many players in the field. “I’m really proud of myself that I managed to pull through this week,” she said. “After the first round when I shot 62, I was feeling really bad physically. I played decent golf today. I had so many missed opportunities and I finally didn’t miss the top 10. We’re back in business.”

Rookie Kaleigh Telfer eagled the last to finish the next-best South African in fifth on 11-under. Her closing 68 put her 11 strokes behind Buhai’s winning 22-under. Casandra Alexander closed with a one-under 71 to finish inside the top 10 in a share of seventh on nine-under.

For Buhai, the victory justified her decision to come home after a long stretch away from her United States base. “It’s always important for me to play this tournament when I can,” she said. “Unfortunately scheduling didn’t work out the last few years because of changes forced by COVID. But I’m happy even though it was at the end of a four-week run and I was a little tired at the beginning of the week, but obviously now I’m thrilled that I came home.

“I’m sure there will be a celebratory braai tonight. I’ve got a few family and friends here, and it’s going to be good to share this with them.”

She also shared it with the applauding fans, and, in a pointed gesture, she made sure to turn back to sign autographs for a young girl and boy who ran after her as she set off for yet another television interview.

10th March 2023 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Buhai refuses to be blown off course at Investec SA Women’s Open

10 March 2023 – Ashleigh Buhai’s fighting spirit shone through on Friday when she carded a three-under-par 69 in defiance of the effects of a stomach bug in the third round of the Investec South African Women’s Open Championship at Steenberg Golf Club.

While that paled in comparison with her opening 64 and her second-round 65, that she was able to overcome an opening bogey, make three birdies in the next four holes, and then hang tough in the face of the illness to finally make another birdie on the last hole of the day that left her four clear of her pursuers ahead of the final round of the tournament co-sanctioned by the Sunshine Ladies Tour and the Ladies European Tour.

“There’s a bit of a bug going around this week, and some of the players have got it,” said Buhai. “Unfortunately, I was one of them and I was up from 2.30 this morning. To get through today and shoot under par is pretty good and I’m very proud of myself.”

That string of 12 consecutive grinding pars from the sixth until the 17th came as her putter, which had been so hot for the first two rounds, cooled down significantly. She burned the edges enough to keep her interested, and the pars were enough to keep her ahead of Germany’s teenaged Chiara Noja and Spaniard Ana Pelaez Trivino.

Trivino carded a fine six-under-par 66 to climb to her share of third on 14-under through 54 holes, and Noja, who was Buhai’s closest pursuer at halfway, had a closing stretch meltdown of three bogeys in five holes from the 13th to the 17th as she signed for a three-under 69, having shared the lead with Buhai after the 12th hole.

Noja’s downfall seemed to start when she left an eagle putt on 12 just short, and, although she made birdie to draw level with Buhai, she seemed to be too keen to press home what she perceived to be an advantage. She pulled driver on the par-four 13th, a bold play which seemed destined for trouble when she pushed it right.

“Me trying to carry that bunker is not even an option,” said Buhai of the surprising play by Noja. “To be honest, if you hit it over that bunker, there’s no space anyway. I hit seven-wood, wedge downwind the way the hole played today, so I don’t really see the play.

“But that was a little opening and then, I thought if I could make my birdie putt there, it could be a two-shot swing. I hit a good putt, but it didn’t drop – story of my day!”

Noja then three-putted for bogey on the 15th, found the greenside bunker on the par-three 17th and was unable to get it up and down from there, and couldn’t make the most of a birdie chance on 18.

“I think I played a lot better than I scored,” said Noja. “Obviously, I’m a little sick and I got a little sloppy and tired. On the back nine, I could really feel it. I was just trying to get across 18 and go to sleep and recover for tomorrow and try to keep myself in contention as much as possible. I’m really gutted that putt on 18 didn’t drop because I hit it and thought it was going in.”

Behind the leading three, last year’s runner-up Magdalena Simmermacher from Argentina showed her class again with a second-consecutive five-under-par 67 taking her to fourth on 13-under. She was one clear of Alessandra Fanali of Italy, who also signed for a 67, and Sweden’s Johanna Gustavsson, who had a 69 to move to nine-under and a share of fifth.

South Africa’s Casandra Alexander parlayed a hole-in-one on the second into a two-under 70 to move into seventh at eight-under and be the second-placed South African. Next-best of the South Africans was rookie Kaleigh Telfer, who was one shot behind Alexander in a share of eighth on seven-under after she carded a one-under 71.

For Buhai, the chase from Noja was a good bit of practice at focusing on the job at hand in the final round when she sets off in pursuit of her fourth title in her national open championship. “I like to think the calibre of shots I have will stand me in good stead tomorrow, especially with the wind,” she said. “She’s a great player. When she came out firing – and so did Maggie – I didn’t have the energy to fight back. It just showed that experience is important, and by staying patient, it definitely paid off.”

9th March 2023 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Team Buhai soars at Investec SA Women’s Open

9 March 2023 – With her husband on the bag, as he was when she won the title in 2018, a relaxed Ashleigh Buhai posted a bogey-free seven-under-par 65 on Thursday to stretch to a four-stroke lead at the halfway mark of the Investec South African Women’s Open Championship at Steenberg Golf Club.

The reigning AIG Women’s Open champion missed five of 14 fairways, and hit 15 of 18 greens in regulation, but you wouldn’t have guessed it from the serene way she went about her work.

Of course, it helps when you’re putting sublimely, and, with just 26 putts for the second round in a row, once she hit the front, there wasn’t much doubt that she’d be in the lead going into the final two rounds of the tournament co-sanctioned by the Sunshine Ladies Tour and the Ladies European Tour.

“It’s always good fun to have Dave on the bag,” Buhai said. “He caddied for me for eight years, no-one knows my game better other than my coach Doug Wood. It’s good when we can do these one-off weeks together every now and then.”

In her first round, she made a bogey, and for her second trip around the course, she managed to minimise errors completely.

“It is always a good day when you have no bogeys, so that’s first things first,” said Buhai, who is taking aim at what would be her fourth national open title. “My front nine was a little bit of a slow start, and I got a bit unlucky on number five when I hit the flag and it ricocheted all the way back down the green. I stayed patient and then managed to finish birdie-birdie on the front nine.

“The golf course is staying soft, so you can be a bit more aggressive, but the pins were a little bit more tucked today. At the same time, I had to be patient. I felt myself trying to push a little bit and then on seven, I hit it left and I said to myself to just hit it to my spaces and the birdies will come and that’s what I did on the back nine.”

In second place was the German teenager Chiara Noja, who fired a course-record 62 in the first round to top Buhai’s opening 64. The 16-year-old Noja, who already had a Ladies European Tour title behind her name, was only able to grind out a one-under-par 71 in the second round which she started in heavy early morning rain.

There were four players in a share of third on eight-under-par, including last year’s runner-up Magdalena Simmermacher from who out lost to Lee-Anne Pace in an epic six-hole play-off. The Argentinean had perhaps the round of the day with her five-under in the very challenging early morning conditions.

Spaniard Ana Pelaez Trivino, who also had a five-under, but much later in the day, Nastasia Nadaud from France, who signed for a two-under 70; and Dutch golfer Romy Meekers, who also carded 70 share third with Simmermacher.

Backing up Buhai’s efforts for South Africa were rookie Kaleigh Telfer and Casandra Alexander.

Telfer was impressive with a bogey-free three-under-par 69, and Alexander, who has won twice on the Sunshine Ladies Tour this season, overcame a bogey on the 10th with five birdies on her way to a 68. They were on six-under for the tournament in a share of sixth.

With the two South Africans were Johanna Gustavsson from Sweden, who had a 72, England’s Gabriella Cowley, who had a 69, and compatriot Lily May Himphreys, who leads the Investec Order of Merit on the Sunshine Ladies Tour after her win in the Joburg Open last week. Humphreys birdied the final hole for a round of 71.

The cut to 60 and ties fell at level-par, leaving a field of 60 professionals and South Africa’s No 1-ranked amateur Kyra van Kan to battle things out over the final 36 holes. For Buhai, things look pretty rosy with a four-shot lead, but she knows that things can change in the blink of an eye. “I’ll need to keep doing what I’m doing,” she said. “I will stick to my process and stick to my steps and try and stick to my thoughts that I have in my swing, that’s all I can control and hopefully the outcome will be what we want.”

8th March 2023 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Two braais in a row and an afternoon on a couch

8 March 2023 – Home comforts as well as the best opening nine holes of her career propelled Ashleigh Buhai to an eight-under-par 64 on Wednesday in the opening round of the Investec South African Women’s Open Championship at Steenberg Golf Club.

The reigning AIG Women’s Open champion made seven birdies on her front nine after starting on the 10th to turn in seven-under-par 29.

There was a dropped shot on the third – her 12th – and two more birdies, and she was two shots clear of her nearest challengers after the morning field had all handed in their scorecards in the tournament co-sanctioned by the Sunshine Ladies Tour and the Ladies European Tour.

“I got off to a great start, making three in a row, lipped out on the fourth and made a bomb on the fifth,” said Buhai, who has won the title three times already, with her last triumph coming in 2018 just down the road at Westlake. “It was a very hot start, and the best front nine in tournament play in my career – never shot 29 before.”

It was just the start she would have wanted after having flown in from Singapore on Monday. “Travel is just part of the job, it’s what we do, but I did feel on Tuesday that I was still at 3,000 feet,” she said. “With the quick turnaround and the Wednesday start, it might have been nice to have got another day of rest, but it is what it is. But to have my family here, and my husband’s family is great. We’re in an Air B ‘n’ B, we’ve had two braais back-to-back, so we’re very happy.

“But after this first round, I’m really excited to go sit on a couch this afternoon. I didn’t get to do that yesterday, with the pro-am and practice. I stayed out a little later, because I just felt I needed to get the feel of the tweak I did with my putter, but I’m very glad I did and put in the work, because it paid off.”

It was her putting which saw her surge clear with that opening birdie-burst which consisted of three in the first three holes, one on the fifth, and then three in a row again from the seventh. “I had a putting lesson yesterday,” said Buhai. “My coach Doug Wood came down for two days and it was nice to see him after not seeing him in about five weeks. We just touched up a few things and made a little tweak here and there, and it paid off straight away.”

The heat evaporated somewhat on the back nine as it drizzled throughout her round, but the fast start had already set her up. “I hadn’t seen the front nine, so I played it blind, and I don’t feel I committed as well as I didn’t on the other nine,” she said. “It showed on the tee shot on three, where I made bogey, but after that, I just trusted Dave, my husband who is on the bag this week. He told me where to hit it and I listened to him.

“My back nine played a little more trickily. I had some longer clubs in and there was a little bit of wind, especially on the last three holes. My goal was to get it to nine-under once I got it back to seven, but those last three holes, you had to hit some good shots coming in.”

Buhai will start the second round two shots back from 16-year-old German teen, Chiara Noja, who blitzed the course in 10-under 62.

On six-under are Johanna Gustavsson from Sweden, France’s Nastasia Nadaud and Romy Meekers from the Netherlands and a further shot back, on five-under, is last week’s Joburg Ladies Open winner and Investec Order of Merit leader Lily May Humphreys from England, the only player in the top six to produce a bogey-free round.

Next best of the South Africans was Nadia van der Westhuizen, who finished on four-under together with Scotland’s Kylie Henry, Luna Sobron Galmes from Spain, Denmark’s Smilla Tarning Soenderby and Agathe Sauzon from France.

Defending champion Lee-Anne Pace started her campaign for what would be a record-extending sixth championship title with a two-under-par 70, a score she shared with South African Casandra Alexander, who has won twice on the Sunshine Ladies Tour this season.

They all have their work cut out for them if Buhai continues to score they was she started: “I wanted to play from a calm place, and to do my steps and processes,” she said. “I have four steps in my routine, and I have my one swing thought, and as long as I commit to that swing thought, that’s all I can do – I can’t affect the result. I do know if I keep doing that with the swing, and with the feel I had with the putter today, maybe seven out of 10 times, it will produce the result that I want.

7th August 2022 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

2022 AIG Women’s Open champion Ash Buhai

Ashleigh Buhai is a major champion! The South African number one made par on the fourth play-off hole late on Sunday to win the AIG Women’s Open Championship at Muirfield and become just the second South African woman to win a major.

And it was fitting that it took a sublime bunker shot on that fourth extra hole to win her the title, given that two other South Africans have won majors at Muirfield – both amongst the greatest bunker players of their generations. Buhai joins Gary Player and Ernie Els as winners of major championships at Muirfield.

Buhai would have thought the sweetness of her triumph was put of reach after her five-stroke lead going into the final round was squandered after she made triple-bogey seven on the 15th coming down the stretch. Before her poor tee-shot, she held a three-shot lead and should have been cantering home.

The South African endured a terrible time of things at the 15th. After finding a bunker from the tee, she then mishit her next shot into thick rough when trying to play out safely, before failing to make clean contact with her third.

The end result was a triple-bogey seven that left her level with Chun at 10-under and also brought Hinako Shibuno – Buhai’s playing partner in the final group – back into the equation.

Chun came agonisingly close to converting a long-range birdie putt at 16, while she and Buhai both missed excellent chances on 17.

After the Korean had parred the last and signed for a one-under 70 to post 274, Buhai raced a lengthy putt for victory five feet past the hole, but then held her nerve superbly to convert the return and force a play-off, with Shibuno (71) finishing just one behind on nine-under.

Thirty-two years on from this championship’s last play-off, the remarkable conclusion left spectators gripped as Buhai and Chun, who had both finished on 10-under-par, matched each other shot for shot over three extra trips down the 18th.

Both players hit immaculate tee shots at every time of asking in the first three holes of the play-off. It was Chun who faltered first. The end finally came – in fading light at 9:10pm local time – as Chun made bogey after driving right into a fairway bunker and Buhai got up and down superbly from a greenside trap to clinch victory with a par.

Sally Little won the LPGA Championship in 1980, and the Du Maurier Championship in 1988. Thirty-four years later, Buhai became the second South African woman on a very short list. “I’ve got no words,” said Buhai. “It’s life-changing.”

Written by Mike Green | SA Tour Golf
(Photo credit Richard Heathcote / R&A / Getty Images)

2nd June 2021 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Pace will need her experience in US Women’s Open

2 June 2021 – Major championship golf, by and large, demands experience as a contributor to success, and Lee-Anne Pace has played in 33 majors ahead of the US Women’s Open which tees off on Thursday at the Olympic Club in San Francisco.

The reigning Investec South African Women’s Open champion played her way into her seventh US Women’s Open with her victory on May 16 at Westlake Golf Club, and will be drawing on her experience in those six previous visits to the tournament to try and improve on her best finish of 43rd in 2017.

Her victory at Westlake came under trying circumstances, mostly as a result of the weather, but those would have prepared her to hang in there when the going will get tough as it inevitably does in any major championship. In the last three US Women’s Opens, of the 59 players who have played eight rounds or more, only five have cumulative scores of under par.

Lee-Anne Pace (credit Petri Oeschger/Sunshine Ladies Tour)

Pace will know that hanging in is making sure the simple things are done right, and that hitting fairways and greens will give her the best chance of making whatever few birdies are on offer.

The past 15 champions have shown well-rounded games en route to victory, but they have shone most brightly around the green. While they ranked 20th in the field on average in driving distance (249.6 yards) and about 25th in fairways hit (73.4 percent), they truly separated themselves by hitting 69.1 percent of the greens in regulation. They were on average third in the field with 3.96 birdies/eagles per round and had 29.3 putts per round.

The South African has a good record over a long Ladies European Tour career in terms of greens in regulation, hitting 62.8 percent of them over 183 tournaments, but she will be aware that she will have to make very sure of her accuracy throughout the week at the Olympic Club. And her putting over those many tournaments in Europe averages out at 30.04 per round.

She has the tools to go with her experience, but she is not the most experienced of the three South Africans in the field.

Ashleigh Buhai has 36 majors behind her, and will be playing in her eighth US Women’s Open with a best finish of 27th in 2017. With her experience in the United States – she plays on the LPGA Tour – she may well have a sense of comfort during a difficult week.

The third South African in the field is Nicole Garcia, who first qualified for the US Women’s Open at Pinehurst in 2014 through the European qualifier in England. Like Pace, she got in to this year’s tournament at the Olympic Club with her performance in the Investec SA Women’s Open at Westlake.

The tournament gets full coverage on SuperSport channel 201 from 11pm on Thursday.

Written by Mike Green for