Ashleigh Buhai carded a final-round 75 and then edged In Gee Chun in a four-hole, sudden-death playoff to claim her maiden major title at the 2022 AIG Women’s Open.
Buhai, who started the day with a five-stroke lead at -14, struggled for most of Sunday at Muirfield links. The South African went out in 1-over par, yet still held a three-stroke lead on 13 under after Chun, herself, dropped two strokes with bogeys on 10 and 12.
The wheels, though, really came off for Buhai on No. 15, when she found a fairway bunker off the tee, leading to a triple-bogey 7, and dropping into a tie with Chun on 10 under.
“It’s probably the worst swing I made all week,” said Buhai. “Was a little quick on the top. But if I had half a lie in that bunker, a plug off the drive, I could have got it out the other way in the fairway.
“Obviously compounded the mistake. I didn’t panic, which I thought was huge, and just tried to make a good swing on the next and just try to make good swings coming in to give myself a chance.”
Two holes later, Buhai had a great opportunity on 17 to reclaim the lead but her birdie putt rimmed the right edge of the cup and rolled out.
In overtime the two contestants were still deadlocked after three holes but on the fourth hole, Chun made a mistake off the tee, and Buhai capitalized with a great up and down to claim victory with a par.
With the win, Buhai became the second women’s major winner from South Africa, joining Sally Little (1980 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, 1988 du Maurier Classic). She also joined seven men who have won major titles, including Gary Player and Ernie Els, who won at Muirfield in 1959 and 2002, respectively.
“I turned pro when I was 18. I was kind of expected, there was a lot of things expected of me. I won straight off the bat on the Ladies European Tour. But this game has a way of giving you a hard time,” said Buhai.
“I’m just so proud of how I’ve stuck it out. I have said the last four or five years, I’ve finally started to find my feet on the LPGA and felt I could compete, and although I’m 33 now, I feel I’m playing the best golf of my career. It’s been a long journey, but man, it’s all worth it right now.”
Alone in third was Hinako Shibuno who shot 71 to finish 9 under. Two further back, and tied for fourth on 7 under, was the trio of Minjee Lee (69), Leona Maguire (66) and Madelene Sagstrom (71).
2022 AIG Women’s Open Leaderboard
Pos-Player-To Par (Final Rd)
1. Ashleigh Buhai -10 (+4)
2. In Gee Chun -10 (-1)
3. Hinako Shibuno -9 (E)
4. Minjee Lee -7 (-5)
4. Leona Maguire -7 (-2)
4. Madelene Sagstrom -7 (E)
7. Celine Boutier -5 (-4)
7. Lydia Ko -5 (-3)
7. Nasa Hataoka -5 (-3)
7. Atthaya Thitikul -5 (-1)
7. Brooke M. Henderson -5 (-1)
7. Stephanie Kyriacou -5 (E)
Top-5 Money Makers
1. Ashleigh Buhai ($1.09m)
2. In Gee Chun ($673.7k)
3. Hinako Shibuno ($488.2k)
4. Minjee Lee ($309.5k)
4. Leona Maguire ($309.5k)
4. Madelene Sagstrom ($309.5k)