AIG Women’s Open: After blowing a five-shot lead, Ashleigh Buhai battled back to win the AIG Women’s Open in a dramatic play-off to win her first major championship.
The South African entered the final round at Muirfield with a five-shot lead and maintained it up until the par-four 15th, where a triple-bogey brought her even with three-time major champion In Gee Chun.
As Buhai salvaged par on her final three holes to salvage a four-over 75 and force a sudden-death round, Chun finished with a one-under 70 to set the clubhouse aim at 10 under.
The two players went back to the par-four 18th hole for the play-off, where they both shot pars on the first extra hole, made bogeys on the second and third holes, and missed birdie opportunities on the fourth. This gave Buhai the biggest win of her career.
Chun, who is playing in the group ahead of Buhai, made birdies at the second and fourth holes to narrow her lead to two shots, but she was unable to get up and down in time to prevent a dropped shot at the first.
In response to back-to-back three-putts from the third, Hinako Shibuno made a long-range eagle at the fifth to get to 10 under par. Buhai then made a close-range birdie from the sand, and Chun birdied the sixth to reduce the deficit to two.
Shibuno made a birdie to make up for the previous hole’s bogey, while Chun slipped three back after bogeying the 10th and 12th holes, cutting Buhai’s lead to one. Buhai also hit a bunker off the ninth tee on her way to bogeying the par-five.
Buhai maintained control of the match with a string of pars on the back nine, including a spectacular saving at the 14th. However, a succession of mistakes on the par-four 15th caused the match to become unwinnable. Buhai missed the green with her fourth shot and two-putted for a triple-bogey seven after hacking out of a fairway bunker into the rough with her next attempt.
Due to Buhai’s inaccuracy, she and Chun were tied for first place at 10 under after both players missed birdie opportunities on the par-five 17th hole and made two-putts on the last hole to force a sudden-death situation.
After Chun’s stunning up and down from the greenside bunker on the first extra hole, where Buhai made a two-putt par, Chun holed from eight feet on the following hole to scramble a bogey after Buhai had failed to save par from the sand.
On the third extra hole, both players missed birdie opportunities from within 20 feet, then Chun bogeyed the fourth play-off hole after hitting sand off the tee, allowing Buhai to take the title with a superb bunker shot that set up a close-range par for the victory.
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