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Walton Heath 2023

Buhai's belief


An improved mindset after AIG Women's Open glory

AIG Women

Winning the AIG Women’s Open has lifted Ashleigh Buhai’s self-belief to new levels.

The South African came through a four-hole play-off against In Gee Chun at Muirfield last year.

Buhai went on to find further success at the ISPS Handa Australian Open in December last year, the South African Open in March and the ShopRite LPGA Classic in June, her first win in America.

She said: “I feel any time I step into a tournament, if my game is there, what happened last year has given me the confidence to believe that I can win if I'm playing well, and that's proven over the last year [with] what I've been able to do.


“Since obviously it's very difficult to defend, we all know this, there's a lot of pressure but I'm trying not to put pressure on myself.

“I'm trying to just enjoy being back here, being defending Champion, and once I get out there on Thursday, not think about the outcome and just try and control what I can in my golf swing once I'm out on the course.”

She continued: “It's fantastic to be back. [It’s] just [been] a whirlwind of a year; all the memories come flooding back and [I am] obviously truly honoured to be back as defending Champion.”

Eight players pose for a photograph at Walton Heath ahead of the 2023 AIG Women's Open

Players from eight different countries posed for a photo at Walton Heath on Monday

The 34-year-old visited Walton Heath on Monday to begin her preparations for a title defence.

Ranked 17th in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings, Buhai will be among the favourites in Surrey, but knows she has things to improve.

She has been working diligently with her coach and sports psychologist, specifically on the aspects of her game that she can control.

Buhai said: “My coach made a few little touches [on Monday]. The good thing is because we have been working together so long, nothing is ever major. I just kind of need a feel and once I have that feel…

“So I'm hoping that we found it. We'll go out there today and see if it's stayed overnight. If I can take that feel into the week, then hopefully I will be able to compete.”

Ashleigh Buhai signs a cap at the AIG Women's Open Festival Village

Buhai met some young fans at the 'Golf It!' zone at Walton Heath

After satisfying a few media commitments early on Monday, Buhai enjoyed her first look around Walton Heath in the afternoon and expects it to provide a challenge worthy of the final major of the year.

She said: “I played the back nine – very demanding off the tee. The fairways are generous but if you do miss them, obviously you're in the heather.

“I don't know what those little purple flowers are for but you don't want to be in those. I said to my coach ‘If you're a weekly member here and you don't hit it straight, I think you lose a lot of golf balls’.

“So it's going to be demanding. It played quite long yesterday. I hit some 7-woods in.

“[The] greens are a lot bigger than that I thought. We can have a lot of pin placements, and especially if they are at the back, you've got to just make sure that you are diligent and hit it into the right spots on the greens.”