With the AIG Women’s Open coming up between August 10-13, here are all the key details you need to know in order to prepare for the tournament, including how Ashleigh Buhai won last year and insights about the course.
Walton Heath Golf Club, Surrey, England
7,406; par 72
269 – Karrie Webb (1997)
269 – Karen Stupples (2004)
$7.3 million (2022)
The AIG Women’s Open is run by the R&A as the women’s equivalent of The Open Championship. Originally conducted by the Ladies European Tour, it became an official LPGA Tour event in 1994 and has been designated as an LPGA major championship since 2001.
The event moves to a different course each year, sometimes to links courses and other years to inland sites. This marks the first time the AIG Women’s Open will be held at Walton Heath Golf Club outside of London, which ranks among the top courses in England.
Walton Heath has a long and distinguished history, having opened in 1904 with its Old Course and a few years later with the New Course, both designed by Herbert Fowler. For tournament play, a composite course is used with the bulk of the holes from the Old Course. Located just south of London, Walton Heath is set on heathland, which gives it some characteristics of links courses—the turf is firm and the fairways are lined with heather and gorse.
Five-time Open champion James Braid was the first professional at Walton Heath and served in that role for 46 years. The Duke of Windsor was the captain of the club in 1935, the same year he started his reign as King Edward VIII. Winston Churchill was a longtime member of Walton Heath. The club has hosted notable competitions, including the 1981 Ryder Cup Matches, the European Open in the 1970s to 1990s, the 2011 Senior Open, the 2018 Sky Sports British Masters, and the annual Walton Heath Trophy, a prestigious amateur event.
How Ashleigh Buhai won in 2022
Ashleigh Buhai recovered from a triple bogey on the 15th hole to win on the fourth hole of a playoff against In Gee Chun in the 2022 AIG Women’s Open at Muirfield in Scotland. Buhai built a five-stroke lead through 54 holes with rounds of 70-65-64 and still held a three-stroke lead until the disastrous 15th, where she drove into a fairway bunker, had to play out sideways, and then took two strokes to escape thick rough. The 33-year-old South African parred the last three holes of regulation for a 75 for a 274 total that was matched by Chun with a 70. The sudden-death playoff consisted of repeat playings of the 18th hole, the two matching pars the first time, bogeys the next time, and pars the third time. Finally, Buhai made an up-and-down par with a bunker shot to three feet to beat Chen, who drove into a fairway bunker and bogeyed.
- The victory was Buhai’s first on the LPGA Tour, which she played in 2008-9 and from 2014 on. She had won three times on the Ladies European Tour, the first coming at age 18.
- Buhai became the second South African to win a women’s major championship, joining Sally Little (1980 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, 1988 du Maurier Classic).
- Buhai was the second South African to win a major title at Muirfield. Ernie Els captured the 2002 Open Championship, also in a playoff.
- In the past seven years, the AIG Women’s Open has been won by players from seven different countries—Thailand, South Korea, England, Japan, Germany, Sweden, and South Africa. The last American to win was Mo Martin in 2014.
This was first published in Essential Golf – you can read the complete magazine here.