South African Ashleigh Buhai successfully defended her Australian Open title on Sunday, securing a one-stroke win over Aussie crowd favourite, Minjee Lee.
Buhai carried a three-stroke lead into the final round, but the lead was only a single stroke over Lee by the time they arrived on the 18th tee.
In breezy conditions at The Australian in Sydney’s east, Buhai was shaky throughout her fourth round. She didn’t make a single birdie on her way to a three-over 75, and had to sweat over a tricky three-footer for par on the 18th to seal the win.
Lee carded a three-under 69 on her way to second place.
“To be honest, I wasn’t feeling the pressure,” Buhai said. “I knew Minjee would come at me today, but the conditions were so tough. I just kind of said, ‘hit it to your spaces, play par golf, make them catch you’.”
Buhai gave Lee a big sniff when she hit her second shot on the 17th hole into the water., but Lee was unable to fully capitalise and only made par to the South African’s bogey.
“It was just crazy how (that shot) got stuck up in the wind, I really couldn’t believe it,” Buhai said.
But the tension didn’t end there. Buhai had about six metres on the 18th green, but left herself a tricky downhill three-foot putt to save par and seal the win.