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Walton Heath 2023

Muirfield revisited


Play-off drama and a late finish as Ashleigh Buhai prevailed in 2022

Ashleigh Buhai with the AIG Women

Final-day drama is all but guaranteed at the AIG Women’s Open but few could have predicted quite how many twists and turns the 2022 finale would hold.

Ashleigh Buhai looked to have one hand on the trophy going into the final round following a majestic course-record 64 on Saturday, which opened up a five-shot lead.

But the chasing pack refused to lie down and the road to glory became strewn with bumps for the South African, who was ultimately forced into a nerve-shredding play-off which gripped the Muirfield crowd as the light faded.

Buhai ultimately came out on top to claim her first major, but only after going through a whirlwind of emotions which made this triumph one to savour.


Buhai had been largely faultless throughout her first three rounds at Muirfield.

A steady opening round of 70 was followed by a 65 and the remarkable 64, which left her hailing “the best round I have ever played” and took her to -14 for the week.

The previous eight players to have held a lead of three shots or more heading into the final round of an AIG Women’s Open had all walked away with the trophy but it quickly became clear Buhai would have her work cut out to follow in their footsteps.

In Gee Chun pulled to within a shot at one stage but bogeys at 10 and 12 halted the Korean’s momentum, ensuring Buhai arrived at the 15th tee with a three-shot advantage intact.

Then came the sting in the tail. Her drive, which she would later decry as “my worst swing of the week”, found a bunker, from out of which she played sideways and into rough that needed two attempts to escape.

Ashleigh Buhai plays out of the rough at Muirfield

Buhai gave herself a lot to do at the 15th

A tricky 15-footer for double bogey was missed and suddenly, by carding a seven, her lead was wiped out in one fell swoop. What had appeared a one-horse race suddenly had three players in contention.


With Buhai, Chun and Hinako Shibuno – Buhai’s playing partner in the final group – in a three-way shootout, chances came and went over the course of a dramatic final few holes.

Chun spurned opportunities at 16 and 17 on her way to signing for a one-under 70, after which her destiny was out of her hands as Buhai, who saw a birdie putt of her own lip-out on 17, came down the last.

A long-range putt for victory slid five feet past the hole but the South African sunk the knee-knocker to ensure the destination of the trophy would be decided over a play-off between herself and Chun, Shibuno having finished a shot further back with a double bogey on the 14th proving costly.


Three-time major winner Chun had to play her way out of trouble in the first play-off hole to stay in contention, pulling off a superb up-and-down from a greenside bunker to save a four.

Bogeys followed for both second time around, Buhai landing just short with a six-foot par putt, and she then came agonisingly close to a birdie as the two players recorded pars at the third attempt and headed back to the 18th tee yet again.

As the light continued to dim around Muirfield, Chun was the first to err from the tee in the play-off and her drive crashed into a bunker, opening up an opportunity for Buhai.

She seized it the hard way. Her approach found sand but a superb chip out landed within three feet and she tapped in for a par which proved enough to seal the deal after Chun’s long-range par putt didn’t land, leading to emotional scenes of celebration shortly after 9pm.

Ashleigh Buhai kisses the AIG Women's Open trophy

Glory and relief for Buhai at the end of a long final day


The 2022 AIG Women’s Open marked Buhai’s first major title in her 221st LGPA Tour start, evidence of that old saying about patience being a virtue.

“Obviously there’s a lot of hard work, many years of dedication going into this,” she said.

“If you told me in February [2022] that I would be sitting here, I would never have believed you with the mental state I was in, to be honest.

“I’m very proud of myself, the way I dug deep and kept myself in it to get into the play off.”

In succeeding, Buhai followed in illustrious footsteps, joining Gary Player, who had sent a good luck message earlier in the week, and childhood hero Ernie Els in becoming the third South African – and first woman – to triumph at Muirfield.

“It's a huge honour,” she added.

“For us to play here for the first time at Muirfield, making history, I'm very honoured and very proud to be South African.”

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