Ashleigh Buhai is relishing a return to the AIG Women’s Open for her title defence at Walton Heath from 9–13 August.
Addressing media gathered at the renowned Surrey venue yesterday, Buhai spoke about her time as the AIG Women’s Open Champion after winning in dramatic fashion at Muirfield last year. The South African defeated In Gee Chun of Korea at the fourth extra hole of a sudden-death play-off to win her first major title.
The 34-year-old let slip a five-shot overnight lead with a closing four-over 75 – largely due to a triple bogey at the 15th – to finish level with Chun on ten-under-par. However, Buhai held her nerve to finally win with a par at the fourth time of playing the 18th to secure her biggest win.
Buhai said, “I feel like I hit one bad shot on the 15th hole which was the drive. TV didn’t quite show the lie I had in the bunker because it plugged up in the face. I only had one way to go, which is the way I went. Before I knew it, I made triple.
“The mental work I had done on my game stood me in good test for that moment. It was really the first time I looked up at the leaderboard and I saw then I was tied for the lead. I said to myself, ‘well, I haven’t lost the lead’, which I think was a good point of view.
“I’m very proud of myself to be able to fight back and finally come in and win the AIG Women’s Open the way I did.”
The AIG Women’s Open was the beginning of a strong run of form for Buhai who went onto win the ISPS Handa Australian Open in December 2022 and the Investec South African Women’s Open in March this year.
“Winning the AIG Women’s Open in the fashion that I did kind of just sparked something in me, it gave me the confidence to know that I could win in the biggest pressure situation.
“Since then it’s been the best eight months of my career. I went down to Australia and won the Australian Open; again, coming down the gun on the last few holes. Then went back to South Africa because my goal was then to hold three National Open titles at the same time. I think that was the most pressure I put on myself being my home title and wanting to win really badly, and just managed to get the job done there.”
Looking ahead to August, Buhai is relishing the chance to compete at Walton Heath with hopes of becoming the first player since Yani Tseng in 2011 to successfully defend the AIG Women’s Open.
Buhai is looking forward to competing in front of large crowds at Walton Heath after The R&A launched an enhanced fan experience that aims to attract new and diverse audiences to the Championship to enjoy women’s golf at the very highest level.
For the first time, live music will feature at the Championship with global superstar Ellie Goulding, who currently has the number one song on the Official UK Top-40 Charts alongside Calvin Harris, headlining a pop concert for fans on Saturday 12 August following the close of play.
Buhai continued, “We have always had really good crowds when we have come to Scotland and England. The AIG Women’s Open has always been a really well supported championship.
“But I think bringing in this different point of view into golf, trying to attract more people, maybe a younger generation to try and make it a bit more fun, I think is a fantastic way to attract new people to golf.
“I think it’s going to create some buzz around the championship and some new excitement.”
Tickets for the AIG Women’s Open are now on sale via aigwomensopen.com.
Adult tickets are available from £20, with Saturday tickets including a full day of golf action and entry to the Ellie Goulding concert priced at £55.
A number of offers are also available, including a £10 discount when booking a weekend bundle and a saving of £40 when booking a new five-day ticket offering.
Mastercard holders are also eligible to receive £5 off their transaction when booking with a valid Mastercard on checkout.
To encourage children and young people to attend the AIG Women’s Open, The R&A will continue the successful ‘Kids go Free’ programme on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday, which provides children under-16-years-old free entry to the Championship when accompanied by a paying adult. Half-price youth tickets are also available on those days for 16-24-year-olds. Junior and youth tickets for Saturday’s golf action and the Ellie Goulding concert are £20 and £40 respectively.
Hospitality packages are also on general sale, offering an unrivalled way to experience the Championship in which guests can enjoy over ten hours of world-class action and fully inclusive hospitality. Visit www.aigwomensopen.com
For information on the AIG Women’s Open or to purchase tickets, please visit www.aigwomensopen.com