Johannesburg - With the Sunshine Ladies Tour season having being wrapped up, glory on the golf course has been bestowed upon Ashleigh Buhai, who is the country’s golfer of the moment.
Her honour came when she clinched the Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies title at Millvale Private Retreat in Koster, North West, last Sunday.
This after she scored 2 553 points, earning herself the honour of being the top player for this year. Points were allocated to every event on the Sunshine Ladies Tour, but players could only earn points in the events they competed in. Buhai played in eight contests and her highlights included two victories and four runner-up finishes.
The crowning moment for the 27-year-old, who represented South Africa at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, came after she put the perfect pace on a 12-foot clutch putt for birdie at the final hole. She registered a final round 71 to edge out Nicole Garcia – her main rival for the 2017 series title – with a second-place finish at four-under par 212.
Buhai, who netted R400 000 for her win, said she could not believe she had bagged the series.
“I don’t think anyone could have scripted the title any better. Nicole and I were still deadlocked at three-under par through 17 holes in the final round. I needed a birdie finish to put her under pressure and I pulled it off. It’s an incredible feeling to finish the season as South Africa’s top player for 2017.”
Buhai married her caddie of seven years, David Buhai, in December.
“We decided to part professionally after our wedding. David will be caddying for Pernille Lindberg from Sweden on the Ladies PGA [LPGA] Tour this season, and I will use someone local,” Buhai said.
“The Chase to the Investec Cup was our swansong together and this made the final victory that much sweeter. Pernille and I will have a similar schedule on the LPGA Tour this year, so Dave and I will still travel together, but we both felt it was time for a change and it was great to end the seven-year partnership on a high note,” she said.
Buhai, who represents the Royal Johannesburg & Kensington Golf Club, had little time to celebrate her victory at home as she had to fly to the US after her triumph at Millvale.
“The goal is to make the field for the first major of the season, the ANA Inspiration, in California on March 30,” said Buhai, who campaigns in the LPGA and the Ladies European Tour (LET).
Buhai is in a band of South Africans who will be swinging their clubs in the LET and LPGA tours this season (see graphic). So far, there are 14 players who will be playing in the US and Europe this season.