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Overtime for history at the AIG Womens Open | LPGA

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As the sun sank behind the horizon and darkness settled over the seaside town of Gullane on Sunday evening, two of the world’s best golfers battled it out on four more holes for the honor of being named the first woman to win a major at Muirfield. Women have waited nearly three centuries for the chance to compete at the historic site owned by the Honorable Company of Edinburgh Golfers. And as the shadows lengthened on the final hole, they played as if they never wanted the day to end.

On the fourth playoff hole, it was Ashleigh Buhai who wrote the next chapter for the women at Muirfield. With a bunker shot for the ages, the 33-year-old made a spectacular save on the sand on the final par four to edge past three-time major champion In Gee Chun and win the AIG Women’s Open. Buhai became the first woman to win a major championship at Muirfield in its 275-year history. She carves her name alongside South Africans Ernie Els and Gary Player as winners on the spot.

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“It’s a huge honour,” Buhai said of joining his compatriot. “To follow these two greats, two of my idols growing up, and for us to play here for the first time at Muirfield, making history, I’m very, very honored and very, very proud to be a South African in this moment.”

It was oddly fitting that Buhai was the one to make Muirfield’s long-awaited story, considering her own long and winding road to major glory.

A winner of the South Africa Open at the age of 14, much was assumed about Buhai when she turned professional at the age of 18. But since joining the LPGA Tour more than a dozen years ago, she has only once reached the top 10 of a major championship. , three years ago at the AIG Women’s Open, and it’s only been years since Buhai really found her footing as a professional. A three-time winner of the Ladies European Tour, her victory on Sunday not only marked her first major title, but her first victory on the LPGA Tour in her 221st start.

“It’s been a long journey, but man, it’s worth it now,” Buhai said after his win.

The showdown between Buhai and Chun made the long wait to see the AIG Women’s Open at Muirfield worth it.

Chun, who was already a big winner in 2022, wrote her own comeback story in recent months as her victory marked her first win in four years. On Sunday, she came from five strokes down to force a playoff with Buhai as she looked to make her own story. Chun was pursuing Grand Sam’s third career milestone and hoped to become the first since Jin Young Ko in 2019 to win two majors in a single season. But the day belonged to Buhai, whose sands all over the world, except in the fading daylight, meant Chun’s historic moment would have to wait.

The AIG Women’s Open marks the third in a four-week series of events in Europe, culminating in this week’s visit to Northern Ireland for the ISPS Handa World Invitational presented by AVIV Clinics. It’s a first of its kind, tri-sanctioned event, bringing together the best from the LPGA, Ladies European Tour and DP World Tour to show young boys and girls in Northern Ireland what professional golf is all about. . Pajaree Anannarukarn saw her dreams come true in Northern Ireland last summer when she outlasted Emma Talley in the playoffs to win for the first time on the LPGA Tour. The duo returns for the second edition of the event alongside the great champions Georgia Hall and Laura Davies, as well as the Northern Irishwoman Stephanie Meadow.

As the sun set over Muirfield on Sunday, the Honorable Company of Edinburgh Golfers couldn’t help but wonder why they had waited so long to welcome women to Muirfield. The world-class competition that took place over four days and culminated in an epic playoff will produce a lasting memory in Muirfield’s long and storied history, which finally includes the best female golfers in the world.

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