Buoyant Buhai wins the 2023 Investec SA Women's Open
The South African Major champion Ashleigh Buhai holed a birdie on the 18th to clinch the Investec South African Tournament, for a fourth time.
The win seals her fifth Ladies European Tour (LET) victory and sees her shoot up to eighteenth in the World Rankings, the only South African to be in the top twenty.
“I’m over the moon, obviously. Ecstatic to have gotten the job done. My goal was to come here and win this week. I tried to play it down, because I know it’s a lot of pressure and it was going to be difficult to do. But now that I’ve got it over the line, I’m really happy," said Buhai.
The last time Buhai won her national open was in 2018. The victory at Steenberg Golf Club justified her decision to come home after a long stretch away from her United States base. “It’s always important for me to play this tournament when I can. Unfortunately, scheduling didn’t work out the last few years because of changes forced by COVID. I was a little tired at the beginning of the week, but obviously, now I’m thrilled that I came home," commented Buhai.
Spain’s Ana Pelaez Trivino finished in second place on the LET after she produced a round of 68 (-4) on the final day to reach 18-under-par, and Germany’s Chiara Noja ended the tournament in third place on 17-under-par after a fourth round of 69 (-3).
The Johannesburg born 33-year-old held a four-shot lead from the midway mark and maintained that advantage on the final day, to win four under, with a total of 266.
Buhai had six birdies and two bogeys on the fourth day of competition to seal what was a dominant performance from the outset.
“The wind got a little bit trickier on the back nine. But luckily I had that big lead, and I could just hit it to the space on the greens and take my two putts. They had to come chasing and I did what I had to do to get the job done," said an elated Buhai.
All four days were covered live locally by SuperSport and streamed to SkySports giving the tournament the best viewership in its history.
Fast Facts | Investec SA Women's Open
The tournament is co-sanctioned by the Sunshine Ladies Tour and the Ladies European Tour. This means players earn ranking points on both tours.
State of play
132 professional women golfers compete, over 72 holes. For the last two years, the tournament has been held in March at Steenberg Golf Club.
The prize purse has risen steadily to reach €320 000 (approx R6-million), making the season finale the most lucrative on the Sunshine Ladies Tour.
Investec Home Grown Award
There was a lot on the line for Buhai, who not only walked away with €51,200 of the €320,000 Investec SA Women’s Open purse but also pocketed R100,000 as the winner of the Investec Homegrown Award.
The Investec Homegrown Award debuted in 2021 and rewards the winner of the Investec SA Women’s Open, should they be a South African.
Investec Order of Merit
Over and above the substantial prize purse on offer through the Investec SA Women's Open and the Investec Homegrown Award, there's an additional opportunity to walk away with R200,000 through the Investec Order of Merit.
The Investec Order of Merit is based on a points system, and the top three placed professionals on the final Investec Order of Merit will gain automatic entry into the 2024 Investec SA Women’s Open.
In order to qualify for the Investec Order of Merit bonus prize, players must have competed in at least four events in the 2023 Sunshine Ladies Tour season.
This year Lily May Humphreys, of England walked away with the trophy.
Group Shot (L- R) Kyra van Kan - Leading amateur; Peta Dixon - Investec head of sponsorships; Asleigh Buhai - Tournament winner; Heather Casey - Investec head of Group Marketing and Lily May Humphreys - Winner of Investec Order of Merit
"We strive to create opportunities that develop women’s sport in SA and are proud of how The Sunshine Ladies Tour has grown. The increase in international participation speaks volumes of the high standard of competition."
Peta Dixon, Head of Sponsorships, Investec