Lydia Ko produced a strong finish for a top-10 result at the LPGA British Open.
Lydia Ko produced one of the best final rounds to storm to a top-10 finish at the LPGA British Open in Scotland.
Ko started the day in a tie for 19th but shot a 3-under 68, her best of the tournament, to finish up seventh at Muirfield.
Only two golfers produced better efforts on the tough final day of wind. Neither of those were from South African Ashleigh Buhai who took the long route to her first major title, blowing a five-shot lead before eventually securing victory on the fourth playoff hole.
Ko had an early bogey at the par-four third but then shot three consecutive birdies and produced another at the 17th to finish the tournament at 5-under and continue her consistent year.
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Buhai was cruising to victory until she found a fairway bunker on the 15th and ended up with a triple bogey.
She carded a 4-over 71 to finish regulation play at 10-under in a tie with South Korea’s In Gee Chun, a three-time major winner.
Buhai held her never to go par, bogey, par, par, eventually getting the better of Chun whose fourth tee-shot down the 18th found a fairway bunker and left her with a bogey.
“I was surprisingly calm,” Buhai said about the clutch green side bunker shot that secured the victory. “My caddy said to me on the last one, I don’t want to brag, but she said `Show them why you’re No. 1 in bunkers this year.’ So, you know, she gave me the confidence. Maybe it’s got something to do with Muirfield and South Africans and bunker shots.”
Ernie Els also won the men’s British Open in a playoff at Muirfield in 2002 after a memorable bunker shot during the final round. This was the first time the Women’s British Open was played at Muirfield, a club that didn’t even allow female members until 2019 following a vote two years earlier.
New Zealander’s LPGA tour star Lydia Ko kept her composure with a perfect shot from a sand trap in the third round at Muirfield.
Buhai made things a lot more difficult than they had to be, though.
“I know there are a lot of people in South Africa with lots of gray hairs right now after that 15th hole,” Buhai said. “But I’m very proud of myself, the way I dug deep and kept myself in it to get into that playoff.”
Buhai nearly won it on the third playoff hole, but her long putt for the win pulled up a few inches away from the hole.
For Buhai, the win more than made up for a near-miss at that 2019 Women’s British Open, when she led the event at the halfway stage at Woburn but finished fifth.
“Forgive me, there will be a few tears,” Buhai said during the trophy presentation. “Obviously there’s a lot of hard work and many years of dedication going into this.”