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How Buhai Executed Brilliantly from the Bunker (And You Can Too)

By Keith Stewart, PGA
Published on
Ashleigh Buhai of South Africa plays her third shot from the bunker on the 18th hole in the Play off during Day Four of the AIG Women's Open at Muirfield on August 07, 2022 in Gullane, Scotland. (Photo by Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images)

Ashleigh Buhai of South Africa plays her third shot from the bunker on the 18th hole in the Play off during Day Four of the AIG Women's Open at Muirfield on August 07, 2022 in Gullane, Scotland. (Photo by Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images)

There’s no doubt the shot of the week was Ashleigh Buhai’s bunker shot on the 4th playoff hole at the AIG Women’s Open. The skilled South African needed to get up-and-down to put herself in position to win for the first time on the LPGA Tour – at a Major Championship nonetheless. Just imagine the pressure she felt in that moment to perform. When you are in a challenging situation, you too can tap into plan that enabled Buhai to succeed.
The unique bunker on the 18th hole at Muirfield is one of the most menacing and memorable sand spots in the world. And on the 8th attempt playing the 18th hole that week, Buhai found herself in it.
To some degree, we all have faced a pressure-filled moment like this. As she approached the bunker, Buhai’s body language was telling. She knew there was an opportunity to win with a solid shot.
Ashleigh’s success from the sand came from quickly developing a decisive plan and then executing under the pressure.
  • Step one – Buhai selected the correct shot needed to get the ball close. Instead of flying the ball all the way to the hole, she chose to use the ground. When it comes to hitting short game shots, always try to use the ground as much as possible. 
  • Step two – Once she chose her landing spot, you could see she was locked in. Amateurs always make the mistake of getting distracted by the hole. In the short game, always focus on the landing spot and not the hole. 
  • Step three – Unlike her approach, Ashleigh executed with confidence. Watch the video again as she completely commits to swinging through the shot. So many of us stop at the ball in the sand. If you don’t move the sand toward the target, you won’t move the ball there. 
Her brilliant bunker play should be a fabulous lesson for us all. From her body language to her blast from the sand. It’s difficult to believe that she was competing for her first win on tour with such composure. When you find yourself in a similar situation, believe like Buhai. Trust in your practice and plan the shot accordingly. Success will follow if you just aim to follow Ashleigh’s example.
 Ashleigh Buhai of South Africa poses with the AIG Women's Open trophy on the eighteenth green after winning the play-off to become the 2022 AIG Women's Open champion during Day Four of the AIG Women's Open at Muirfield on August 07, 2022 in Gullane, Scotland. (Photo by Octavio Passos/Getty Images)
Ashleigh Buhai of South Africa poses with the AIG Women's Open trophy on the eighteenth green after winning the play-off to become the 2022 AIG Women's Open champion during Day Four of the AIG Women's Open at Muirfield on August 07, 2022 in Gullane, Scotland. (Photo by Octavio Passos/Getty Images)


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