AIG Women’s Open: Ashleigh Buhai Wins First Major With Playoff Victory Over In Gee Chun

Ashleigh Buhai
Ashleigh Buhai follows fellow South Africans Gary Player and Ernie Els as they claim major glory at Muirfield
-10 Buhai* (SA), Chun (Kor); -9 Shibuno (Japanese); -7 Sagstrom (Swe), Lee (Aus), Maguire (Ire)
Selected others: -1 Ewart Shadoff, Duncan (Sc); Level Hall (Eng), Hull (Eng); +3 Reid (Eng); +5 Right (Eng)
*indicates winner after four-hole play-off
Full Scoreboard

South Africa’s Ashleigh Buhai recovered from throwing a five-shot lead to defeat South Korea’s In Gee Chun in a dramatic play-off at the AIG Women’s Open to seal her first major win.

Buhai parried the fourth play-off hole after Chun bogeyed to seal the win at 21:10 BST in Muirfield.

The 33-year-old’s impressive lead at the start of the day evaporated when she made a triple bogey on the 15th par four.

That saw her fall back next to three-time big winner Chun at -10.

The pair could not be separated on the first three holes of the playoff, pairing, bogey, par.

Buhai finally settled things with a brilliant up and down shot from the bunker to set up a tap-in for par, while Chun, finding a bunker off the tee, couldn’t match.

‘It’s life-changing’

Buhai is the first South African to win the tournament since 1979, taking $1,095 million (£907,000) from the $7.3 million (£6.05 million) purse.

“I’m so proud of myself for digging deep to get into the playoff,” said Buhai, who won a major title at Muirfield along with compatriots Gary Player (1959) and Ernie Els (2002).

“It’s so hard to put into words right now. It might not affect me for a few days, but of course I’m very proud.

“We’re a very small country, so to be able to produce a lot of big champions is quite a bit, and now that I’m a female South African big winner I have no words – it’s life-changing.”

Chun, 27, added: “I never gave up and gave it my all. Ashleigh played a brilliant bunker shot and she deserved it. I’m very happy for her.”

Ashleigh Buhai
Ashleigh Buhai is embraced by husband David

Story of the round

84 in the world, Buhai had previously scored a four-over-par 75 and led three with four holes to play before her late collapse.

Chun, who won the Women’s PGA Championship in June, was tied for second place at nine under overnight and started strong when she birdied three of the first nine holes.

But two bogeys on her back nine saw her draw for a 70 under par.

Japan’s Hinako Shibuno, who also started the day at nine under, had a mixed round with an eagle on the par-five fifth. She was still in the race on 18th and needed a birdie, but a par caused her to score 71 and finish nine under in third.

Maguire records best big finish

Ireland’s Leona Maguire had the round of the day as she shot a 66 and finished fourth at seven under alongside Sweden’s Madelene Sagstrom and Australia’s Minjee Lee.

Maguire, who had her best result to date in a major, said: “I don’t think I could have played much better today. If I had had a few chances it would have been nice to hit a few more putts, But it was tough out there and definitely my best wave of the week so far.”

England’s Jodi Ewart Shadoff and Scotland’s Louise Duncan were the best-seeded Britons tied for 19th, one under, while England’s duo Charley Hull and Georgia Hall tied for compatriot Mel Reid with three left.

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