By doing so, Buhai added her name to an illustrious list of South African golfers who won at Muirfield, where Gary Player and Ernie Els won the first Men’s Open.
“It’s a huge honor to add my name to that list with Gary and Ernie,” she told DailyExpertNews’s Don Riddell.
“But because we were the first woman to win at Muirfield, we made history last week… times are changing.
“Everyone there last week was fantastic, the crowds were fantastic – they welcomed us with open arms.”
The 33-year-old’s hold on a historic win seemed to slip at death as she made a triple bogey on the 15th hole, the five-shot advantage she had at the start of the final round evaporated as Chun tied.
After bogeying just once a day, carding one-under 70, 65 and 64, Buhai now needed three straight pars to climb to four-over 75. But instead of panicking, the South African was determined to keep a cool head. head.
“I just said to myself, ‘Okay, we’re right in front of the lead again’…I hadn’t lost him yet,” Buhai recalls.
“I had three holes to go. And my caddy just said to me, ‘Let’s get back in there and focus on the next shot.’ And that’s all I could do, the only thing I could control would be the next shot.
“I had done so much good that week, so I tried not to let that one hole interfere with my entire week.”
Sure enough, Buhai kept her nerve to close with three pairs and set up a nail-biting sudden-death playoff with Chun.
Tensions for Buhai were only compounded by the opposition pedigree as Chun chased her second major of the season after winning the PGA Championship in June.
“I just tried to stay in the moment, focus on every shot,” Buhai said.
“I knew In-Gee was going to be a fierce competitor, she’s already a big winner.”
He couldn’t be separated after three rounds of the 18th hole, but the deadlock was broken when Chun – after finding a bunker off the tee – could only bogey. Despite joining her opponent in the sand, an incredible approach shot from Buhai left her with a short putt for her first major title.
The South African made no mistake and rolled the ball home. After looking to the sky, the new champion was embraced by her husband David, a picture of fear and stress during the playoff.
A tearful Buhai paid tribute to her husband – who had previously CDD for her for eight years – in an emotional interview after the win. After turning professional in 2007, the triumph at Muirfield marked an unprecedented new high point in a ‘long journey’.
Despite three wins on the Ladies European Tour, Buhai – who never finished higher than 5th in a major – was still chasing a first LPGA Tour win when she landed in Scotland on Thursday.
The joy of ending that drought was only mitigated by claiming a $1,095,000 prize money, rocketing her career earnings to $3,503,926 and continuing a historic year for prize money in women’s golf. .
Minjee Lee’s $1.8 million win from an unprecedented $10 million pot at the US Open in June was followed by another record purse at the PGA Championship, where Chun took home $1.35 million from a $1 purse. 9 million which had doubled from the previous year’s event.
In addition to the increased media attention that comes with being a great champion, they are the kind of figures who are going to rock Buhai’s world.
“The money we’re playing for now… it changes our lives,” she said. “We’ve never played for this amount before, so the wallets are great.
“I don’t think I’ll realize it for a few months until it really starts to add up.”