Buhai boss in Australia

Henry

South Africa’s leading female golfer, Ashleigh Buhai, ended her year on a high with a nail-biting victory in Sydney in the Australian Open Championship.

The 34-year-old Gautenger won the coveted Aussie title for the second time in a row by beating local star Minjee Lee to the crown by one stroke.

Buhai finished Sunday’s final round in 75 strokes (+3) for a total of 280 (-9).

It was good enough to beat Lee, who won the Australian PGA Championship last weekend, by a single stroke.

Lee finished the fourth round in 69 strokes (-3).

At the last hole, she had a chance to force a tiebreaker against the South African, but her putt from about four meters for a ninth birdie of the day skidded past the can.

“I wasn’t nervous at all and luckily I was able to keep my head to make the title mine,” said Buhai.

“At the 17th I hit my putt in the water, which opened the door for Minjee.

“The weather conditions were challenging and Minjee really put in a great performance to get close, but I still felt that I was in control because I expected a giant attack in advance.

“It’s a nice feeling to end the year on a high. Now I can go and stretch out.”

The last player to win the Australian Open in consecutive years was the then world no. 1 player Yani Tseng who kicked dust in everyone’s eyes in 2010 and 2011.

Buhai is more than R3.5 million richer after her victory and will probably also move up quite a few places in the world rankings.

Prior to the Aussie tournament, she held the 26th position on the Rolex ranking after her victory in the ShopRite Classic on the LPFA series in June. 12 in the world ranking.

Before her Shoprite victory, Buhai finished six times in the top ten in various LPGA tournaments, as well as winning the SA Open in March at Steenberg in Tokai.

However, a back injury kept Buhai on the sidelines for almost two months from August and she seems to be back at her best only now.

Apart from Sunday’s winning check of more than R3.5 million, this Johannesburg native has won almost R20 million in the USA this season despite her back which has taken a toll on her.

The British Open champion of 2022 has already indicated that she will defend her SA Open title next year.

  • Additional source: Golf Week