February 7, 2023

Ashley Buhay waited until her 33-year-old to win her first major championship, so there were no more four holes. After shooting a 75 in the final round of Muirfield’s first women’s Open to take a five-stroke lead, Buhai beat NJ Chun in a playoff that lasted over an hour as the sun set over East Lothian, as well as the men’s and men’s teams. Women’s Grand Tournament season.

Buhai is a Cinderella story in Wikipedia page only. South Africa entered the week with a rarity in the top ten (only one came in the 2019 Women’s Open in Woburn), but they also ranked 84th in the world and made the top 25 in the last two women’s majors. in the Women’s PGA Championship and the Evian Championship.

She came out rolling for the first three days at Muirfield. Round 70 on Round 1 was followed by rounds of 65 and 64 featuring only 13 birds, an eagle and two ghosts to outsmart Chun by five as well as partner Hinako Shibuno’s role in Sunday’s final to start a historic week. in Muirfield.

After playing the first 14 holes of the final round in 1 is enough, Muirfield caused disaster in the par-4 15th. Buhai hit her top and hit her in a vault, and it only got worse from there. Lateral second precedes the submerged third. I made a Triple Ghost 7 to tie in for the second time with Chun, who was one by one. They both cut the last three holes to go to the playoff.

For someone like Buhai, who has been playing the 43rd major in her career, this can often become disastrous. The world starts spinning, shots start to race, and what 10 minutes ago felt like total control now feels like 18 wheels on ice heading down the hill.

She put both hands on the steering wheel, regaining the championship in her fist. It’s a sign of a mature player – Buhai has been on the LPGA Tour since 2008 and was once the youngest winner in Women’s European Tour history – but it’s also a sign of the champ, who became Buhai.

There were wobbly moments in the playoff, too. Both players experienced dips in temperature, weak punches per second, and spinal numbness strikes to extend one of the biggest tournaments in the world. Buhai and Chun played their first three playoffs – all 18 at Muirfield – in 13 strokes. Par-bogey-par. Then they went to that tee for a fourth – likely due to fading sun and lack of light – the last time in the evening regardless of the outcome.

Chun opened the door by pushing her ball into the bunker, but Buhai prevented her approaching the bunker who shouted “5.” Instead, the shot of her life hit and Chun left a miracle show short. She poured Buhai into a short one to give her heroism that could have slipped through her fingers several times over the past several hours.

Buhai joined fellow South Africans Gary Player (1959) and Ernie Els (2002) as champions at Muirfield.

“It’s so hard to put into words now, I think it might just shock me in a few days,” she said, crying afterward. “Obviously I’m very proud. We are a very small country so to be able to produce quite a few great champions is amazing. For me being a South African woman and a big winner, I didn’t get the words. It’s life changing.”

It was an emotional win for her, for very obvious reasons, but it was also an emotionally compelling victory to watch the less obvious ones.

All major gains – on the men’s and women’s side – are life-changing, but not all equally Life is changing. And for Buhai, a career grinder who didn’t win much at the world’s highest level, it was a revelation. She grabbed the front of her hat and pulled it against her eyes, the truth of what she had always imagined was too much for her at the moment. Beautiful result for a long summer and a longer career.

It’s a wonderful curiosity to watch golfers try to understand or contextualize what they just accomplished seconds after it happened. This happens all the time throughout the golf world, but it rarely happens at this level with so much at stake. Buhai – because of her week, because of her long (but not illustrious) career, because of the way she resurrected herself after what would have been a nightmare at No. 15 and because of Muirfield – more than anyone else in the 2022 major season was written in both the past and the future. on her face. All at the same time and all in the present. What a wonderful thing to watch.

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