Ashleigh Buhai birdied five of the final seven holes to come storming home with a final-round 65 to force a playoff with 2018 British Women’s Open champion Georgia Hall in the Cambia Portland Classic, before losing out at the second extra hole.
It would have been the first LPGA victory for the 31-year-old South African, who is also a columnist for Compleat Golfer. This was the sixth top-10 finish of her LPGA career and the first of the year, following the sport’s return from the Covid-19 lockdown.
The 24-year-old Hall matched Buhai with a par on 18 on the first extra hole and won on the par-four 1st hole at Columbia Edgewater after both had signed for 54-hole totals of 204 in regulation play.
The 31-year-old Buhai birdied four of the final five holes for a 65 – matching Danielle Kang for best round of the day. ‘I hit good shots coming down the stretch,’ she said. ‘You know, adrenaline. It’s difficult to really calculate. Not much you can do, and just a misread a putt. I just misread it a little bit,’ she said of her bogey on No 13.
‘I can’t say I really feel like celebrating right now,’ Buhai added. ‘I finished second in the past and I felt that was a good week. Obviously, I’m a little disappointed, but there were far more positives this week than negatives, and got to take that into the next tournament.’
Moriya Jutanugarn (67) and Yealimi Noh (69) finished a stroke out of the playoff. Second-round leader Mel Reid (74) was 10 under with Inbee Park (66), Caroline Masson (66), Mariah Stackhouse (67), Cheyenne Knight (68), Robynn Ree (66) and Jasmine Suwannapura (68).
Buhai had missed the cut at the ANA Inspiration the week before but showed her game is back to form with 71, 68 and 65 for a 12-under-par total. She went into the tournament ranked 97 in the world, and the South African No 1, but will be higher than that when the next Rolex rankings are announced.