Women’s British Open Recap: Ashleigh Buhai Claims the Final Major of the 2022 LPGA Tour

Also: Chun In-Gee’s potential secret to success, and some speculation on the status of the Tour’s top players. 

By Alexandra Cadet

Another LPGA event, another down-to-the-wire finish. Ashleigh Buhai ran away with the Women’s British Open trophy after a close playoff, winning her first major ever––and the last major of this year’s Tour. 

As one can guess from the final standings, it wasn’t always smooth sailing for Buhai at the Open. For instance, she suffered a triple bogey on the final round’s fifteenth hole, temporarily knocking her down to joint-2nd with eventual runner-up Chun In-Gee. But she battled through these setbacks by using two of the most powerful weapons in her arsenal.

South Africa’s Ashleigh Buhai poses for the media holding the trophy after winning the Women’s British Open golf championship, during the presentation ceremony in Muirfield, Scotland, Sunday, Aug. 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Scott Heppell)

The first weapon is one that LPGA fans may be aware of: her solid bunker shot. It helped her battle back on the fourth playoff hole against Chun, and consequently, it awarded her the overall title. But the second one––her mental strength––is arguably more important to her success. Thanks to her sessions with sports psychologist Duncan McCarthy, Buhai knew exactly how to ground herself during the more stressful moments of the competition. 

“He’s given me the tools, we say, to stay in the moment, and all I can control, and stay away from outcome,” she said to GOLF.com. “We get so lost in what can happen, and sure, it’s easy to drift and you’re going to go there, but as long as you bring yourself back, it’s fine.” Clearly, Buhai used these tools (and her skill in bunkers) to show up and show out in the Open. And now––roughly fifteen years after turning pro––she finally has a major title for her efforts.

The Fun Way

It wouldn’t be an overstatement to say that Chun In-Gee had a great year in terms of major appearances. One win, a runner-up finish, and zero placements under a T25 is rather impressive, even for a player of her caliber. “I’m always happy to finish in a good position. I felt like I had a great season, and I have more tournaments coming in the future […]” she said to LPGA Communications after the Women’s British Open. “I think now I have a lot of confidence I can play well at links course.”

Fans may be curious as to what’s behind Chun’s solid campaign. Besides her obvious skill as a player, the reason for her ascendancy may be because she remembers what sports are all about: amusement. She exudes good-naturedness on the green, whether it’s through making bets with her caddie mid-competition or responding to a debilitating slump with a new resolve to compete and win. 

Judging by the fact that those instances coincided with two of her most successful major appearances this year, that very good-naturedness seems to have paid dividends. Slowly but surely, Chun In-Gee has once again established herself as a force on the LPGA Tour. And no one can deny that she did it the fun way.

Nothing Is Guaranteed

Now that all five majors of the 2022 LPGA Tour are over, one important question must be asked: is it too early to start making predictions for the CME Group Tour Championship?

The answer is: yes. Yes, it is way too early. 

However, it may be more practical to think about how a few of the league’s top performers will fare for the rest of the season. Chun In-Gee, having recently moved up in the Rolex rankings, could become a Tour MVP should she up her consistency in non-major competitions. Danielle Kang, who announced her return to the sport on Monday, is another player to watch; it remains to be seen whether she’ll hit the ground running at the CP Women’s Open or (understandably) be a little rusty after her time spent recovering from a spinal tumor. Also in an unsure position is World No. 1 Ko Jin-Young, who suffered a surprise cut from the British Open. Here’s hoping both athletes can finish strong––and remind the world exactly why they’re considered top golfers. 

It’s still important to remember that if the Tour’s events remain evenly matched and unpredictable, no player’s success or failure is guaranteed. And that should tell fans that even though all five of 2022’s major tournaments are over, the fun on this year’s LPGA Tour has just begun. 

A full schedule of the 2022 ISPS Handa World Invitational and the CP Women’s Open (the next two events of the 2022 LPGA Tour) can be found here and here, respectively. 

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