Buhai opens ANA Inspiration with 1-over 73

Apr 2, 2021 | Featured, South Africans abroad

South Africa’s Ashleigh Buhai started the first major championship of 2021, the ANA Inspiration, with a one-over-par 73 on Thursday at the Dinah Shore Tournament Course, Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, California.

She found herself seven shots off the first-round pace which was set by Thailand’s Patty Tavantankit with her six-under 66. Tavantankit had a one-stroke edge over China’s Shanshan Feng and Ireland’s Leona Maguire.

Buhai started her round on the back nine, and picked up a birdie on the 12th. She gave that shot back with a bogey on the 17th, but got back into red numbers with a birdie ahead of the turn on 18. Her homeward none was a much more difficult affair as she made bogeys on one, four, five and six before getting things back under control with birdies on eight and nine.

The 21-year-old Tavantankit is in just her second year as a professional, and her bogey-free round belied that seeming inexperience. “It was a pretty calm and relaxing day today,” she said. “I just stuck to my game plan and didn’t get too greedy out there. I know it’s a major, it’s tough, the course is really tough. I was just being really patient and I was waiting for putts to drop, and they did on the back nine.”

One of the greatest characters in the women’s game, Shanshan Feng returned to competitive play for the first time since November 2019. Without a hint of rust, she fired an opening 67 and sharing second place with Maguire. A blemish-free round saw China’s Olympic bronze medallist smiling even more broadly than normal, enthusing, “I would say that I’m mentally very fresh because this is my first tournament in, I don’t know, 13, 14 months I guess. So I am mentally very fresh and I feel like my body is maybe back to like 25. Not quite 18, but back to maybe like 25, so able to get through the 18. I’m feeling good, yeah.”

You may also like…