SA’s Ashleigh Buhai wins Women’s Open at Muirfield

South Africa’s Ashleigh Buhai won her first major title at the Women’s Open at Muirfield on Sunday after beating InGee Chun in a thrilling playoff Sunday.

The 33-year-old, who held a five-shot lead going into the final round, recorded a par on the fourth playoff hole, while Chun made bogey.

The South African struggled on the back nine in regulation play and had to settle for a 75, while Chun shot a 70. Both players finished at 10-under-par.

Both players had chances in the playoff, with both pulling off extraordinary bunker shots to extend the tournament.

This is Buhai’s first major win after impressing as a junior.

“Lot of hard work, lot of dedication gone into this,” said Buhai in television interview afterwards.

“I was surprisingly calm, had to stay in the moment. It’s so difficult to put into words, it’s quite something … to be a major winner, it’s life-changing.”

As Ashleigh Simon, she won the first of three South African Amateur Championships at the age of 14.

She also later won three times on the Ladies’ European Tour and has two South African Women’s Open titles to her name.

Two other South Africans made the cut, Paula Reto finishing tied 58th and Lee-An Pace 65th.

The last South African to win a major at Muirfield was Ernie Els in 2002, his first Open title to go with the one he also bagged in 2012 at Royal Lytham and St Annes.

“I love Ernie,” said Buhai. “He was the player I looked up to when I was young and it had crossed my mind that it would make it extra special to win here. Now we both live in Florida, which is fun.”

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