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LEADERBOARD -10 Buhai, Chun (Buhai wins in playoff); -9 Shibuno; -7 Maguire, M. Lee, Sagstrom SELECTED OTHERS -5 Ko; -1 Duncan; +1 Park; +3 Kupcho, J. Korda; +4 N. Korda

Ashleigh Buhai is the new AIG Women’s Open champion.

The South African broke her major duck with a dramatic playoff victory over In Gee Chun at Muirfield.

She had to do it the hard way. Having held a five-shot lead overnight, a collapse on the back-nine threatened to ruin her week.

Having been near-flawless for three-and-a-half rounds, Buhai triple-bogeyed the 15th to drop back. But a clutch par at the last ensured she survived to fight on.

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It took four trips back down the 18th to separate them.

First, Chun produced one of the shots of the week out of the treacherous right-hand greenside bunker, stiffing it when Buhai had safely found the green.

Then the pair both made bogey, Buhai finding the sand while Chun was forced to drain a tricky eight-footer after having difficulties in the rough to the left of the putting surface.

Both were inches away from birdies on the third attempt, before things were finally decided on trip four, the last opportunity for a conclusion to be reached without having to return on Monday.

Chun, perfect off the tee for much of the week, blocked her drive into the right-hand fairway bunker. Up against the face, she was forced to splash out.

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There was still time for more drama, however, as Buhai once again found the greenside sand. But this time her recovery was almost perfect, sticking it within a foot.

From that point on it looked certain, and it was confirmed when Chun missed her putt for par, leaving the South African a tap-in for major glory.

“There’s a lot of hard work and many years of dedication going into this,” she said.

“I’m very proud of myself for the way I dug deep and kept myself in it.

“To be a female South African and a major winner – it’s life-changing.”

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