16th January 2017 | Sunshine Ladies Tour
Buhai ready for SA Womenâ€™s Masters hunt
CAPE TOWN, 16 January 2017 â€“ Ashleigh Simon needs no introduction. Her storied amateur career was nothing short of outstanding and, since she joined the pro ranks, she has complimented a flood of amateur victories with two Ladies European Tour and four Sunshine Ladies Tour titles.
All those feats belonged to Ashleigh Simon, though, so itâ€™s no wonder that Mrs Ashleigh Buhai is so keen to kick off her fourth Sunshine Ladies Tour season in a big way this week.
â€œIâ€™d better win and win quickly, or people will wonder what happened to me,â€ said the beaming newly-wed ahead of this weekâ€™s South African Womenâ€™s Masters.
The R500Â 000 event tees off at Rondebosch Golf Club on Thursday and she jetted into Cape Town with husband David on the bag, ready to put her game face on in the Mayorâ€™s Pro-Am on Tuesday.
â€œWe just got back from Australia, so Iâ€™m really pleased that we have the pro-am to play and an official practice round on Wednesday,â€ Buhai said.
â€œI havenâ€™t played competitively since Dubai. We got in married in December, had the honeymoon and then went to a friendâ€™s wedding in Melbourne. I need to get the rust off and get myself into competitive form quickly, because we have a few busy weeks ahead of us and I already missed the SuperSport Ladies Challenge.â€
Buhai won four pro events as an amateur, including 2004 SA Womenâ€™s Open at the age of 14 and the SA Womenâ€™s Masters at age 16. She was the only amateur to achieve this feat in both flagship events and added a second SA Womenâ€™s Open title in 2007 just before she turned professional.
â€œI never had the chance to go for the double, because the last SA Womenâ€™s Masters was held in 2008 when I was campaigning in Europe,â€ Buhai said.
â€œItâ€™s so awesome that we have this tournament back on the Sunshine Ladies Tour schedule. As amateurs we all dreamed of winning these two championships. Once I won them as an amateur, Iâ€™ve always wanted to own the double and this year I have the chance to win both. All of us have been saying the Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies is a real race now because we have the SA Womenâ€™s Masters back.â€
Buhai is under no illusions that itâ€™s going to take her A-game to get her hands on the trophy again.
â€œWe have a really strong field this week, what with our top players and a huge bunch of international competitors in the field,â€ she said.
â€œLee-Anne (Pace) and Stacy (Bregman) are also starting this week. In the first event, Kim (Williams), Monique (Smit) and Melissa (Eaton) showed some great form and so did Ivanna (Samu). She led the first round of Cape Town Ladies Open as an amateur last year and sheâ€™ll be hungry to get her first pro win.
â€œRebecca (Hudson) from England is back in title defence and she won on Sunshine Ladies Tour last year. Anne-Lise Caudal from France is a Ladies European Tour winner and always dangerous. But itâ€™s the rest of the international players I donâ€™t know that has me worried.
â€œIâ€™m just keen as beans to get started and to see where my game is at. Itâ€™s going to be a fantastic week and Cape Town is always a great destination, even if the golf isnâ€™t that good.â€
PHOTO â€“ Ashleigh and David Buhai; credit Sunshine Ladies Tour.