Buhai Goes Back-to-Back at ISPS HANDA Australian Open

Buhai Goes Back-to-Back at ISPS HANDA Australian Open 1920 1408 ISPS Handa

Ashley Buhai has vowed to return to attempt a three-peat at the ISPS HANDA Australian Open. 

The South African was a one-stroke winner on Sunday at The Australian Golf Club in Sydney after fending off a surging Minjee Lee. Her back-to-back success matches that of close friend Karrie Webb, who sent her a good luck message to start the week in Sydney. 

“I’ll keep coming back as long as you’ll have me. Everyone knows how much I love Australia,” Buhai said. 

“I’m very proud to come here and defend. I’ve never done that with a professional title. Minjee played great and made a run at me. 

“I’m a big fan of the inclusive format (with men, women and all abilities golfers). It brings it altogether and fans get to see the best of each.” 

Buhai’s steadiness kept her firmly in the lead for most of the final day. She racked up 12 straight pars while Australian playing partner Minjee Lee was in a very different groove. 

World No.5 Lee birdied the opening two holes and seven in the same 12 holes beside her playing partner in the leading group. Lee mixed in three bogeys as well but the net result was strong surge at the leader. 

Minjee Lee…perfectly balanced in her follow through at the ISPS HANDA Australian Open. Photo: Golf Australia / Brett Costello

Lee had begun the day seven shots behind but a long birdie putt on the 10th to complete a birdie-birdie-birdie stretch had her storming into contention. 

Buhai (68-70-67-75) flinched with two bogeys and another when she found the water on the par four 17th. A nerveless wedge and putt for bogey was a clutch play and maintained the one-shot buffer until the end. 

Lee (70-75-67-69) could savour her best Australian Open finish yet. 

“I’m happy but I’m a little unhappy at the same time,” Lee said.