Buhai a par above SA’s rest

Golfer scores most points on Sun­shine Ladies Tour

CityPress - - Sport - PULE MOKHINE pmokhine@city­press.co.za

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 12foot 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. Symetra Tour (de­vel­op­metal wing of the LPGA) (de­vel­op­men­tal wing of the LET)


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