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Buhai going from strength to strength


AIGWO Champion claims maiden title in US

Ashleigh Buhai at the 2022 AIG Women

When Ashleigh Buhai won the biggest title of her career at the AIG Women’s Open in 2022, she was determined to ensure it was no one-off.

“I sat down with my mental coach and I said: ‘I don’t want this to be a one-hit wonder. I want to build off this and I want this to be something new’,” said the South African.

“I feel like I’ve managed to do that.”

Buhai was speaking at the end of May, having followed up her success at Muirfield with further victories in the ISPS Handa Australian Open and Investec SA Women’s Open.

The 34-year-old can now celebrate another landmark triumph and the completion of her number-one target for 2023 after winning the Shoprite LPGA Classic on Sunday.

"It's huge,” said Buhai. “My goal this year was to win in the US. I hadn't won here yet. I'm very proud of myself for ticking it off."

Buhai began Sunday’s final round at Seaview trailing Dani Holmqvist by three, but birdied four of the first five holes to storm into contention.

A brilliant up-and-down on the final hole then proved decisive as Buhai finished with another birdie to complete a second successive 65 and beat Hyo Joo Kim by one with a 14-under total.

In her discussion with The R&A a fortnight ago, Buhai explained why she felt a victory in the US was within her grasp.

“Ultimately we are looking for consistency as a professional golfer and I’ve had that this year,” she said.

“Winning the AIG Women’s Open, it gave me that belief. I’ve had five [now seven] top-10s and that’s what creates good feelings and a feeling that when you then try to get yourself into contention you can pull it off.

“Winning the AIG Women’s Open, it gave me that belief. ” Ashleigh Buhai

“If you’re consistent, hopefully then you keep putting yourself in position and one of the weeks it will click and you can pull off a win.”

Now up to a career high of 12th in the Rolex Rankings, having risen from 84th to 27th with last year's victory at Muirfield, Buhai appears primed to be among the leading contenders once again when she defends her AIG Women’s Open title at Walton Heath in August.

“It’s exciting to be coming back as the defending champion. It means that what you’ve done the year before is something great.

“I know there will be a lot of hype around the week and there’s always extra pressure on somebody who is going into a tournament to defend.

“But if I can just keep everything in place and more process-based, and try not to think of the outcome and get myself too worked up about it, hopefully I can have a good week.”

You can buy tickets for the 2023 AIG Women’s Open here.

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