Ashleigh Buhai prepped for 2021 by taking on childhood idol Ernie Els. Took his money too.

OCALA, Florida – Ashley Buhai had a life-sized poster of Ernie Els in her bedroom growing up. She first met her idol at the 1998 South (...)

Ashleigh Buhai prepped for 2021 by taking on childhood idol Ernie Els. Took his money too.

OCALA, Florida – Ashley Buhai had a life-sized poster of Ernie Els in her bedroom growing up. She first met her idol at the 1998 South Africa Open, which played about five minutes from her home. Buhai took the poster to the tournament to have it signed by the four-time major winner.

They’ve met several times since then but only recently started playing casual golf in south Florida now that Buhai has a home in Palm Beach Gardens. She might have taken a little money off of the Hall of Famer too.

Buhai, a three-time Ladies South African Open winner, played her first round in four weeks with Els and Branden Grace, who won last week’s Puerto Rico Open on the PGA Tour. She made nine birdies out at Turtle Creek to take $50 off them.

“They were pretty impressed with that,” said Buhai, who currently sits in a tie for seventh at the LPGA Drive On Championship after rounds of 70-70.

With such a short offseason, Buhai, 31, didn’t go back home to South Africa due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was hard enough getting back to the tour last summer when it restarted, taking 38 hours from their home to Chicago.

“I mean, obviously miss not being able to go back to South Africa,” said Buhai of having an American base, “but I think it’s going to be really good for me. It’s going to give me a sense of somewhere to go on my off weeks and not living out a suitcase all the time.

“I used to play so much because I didn’t have anywhere to go kind of thing. I’m going to be able to plan my schedule a little bit better and rest up more.”

Ashleigh’s husband, David, currently caddies for 2019 U.S. Women’s Open winner Jeongeun Lee6. The couple first met at a golf academy in Johannesburg and were dating long distance when David flew out to sub in after Ashleigh’s caddied suffered a broken leg.

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David, who was a general manager of a shoe store at the time, never went back, looping for Ashleigh until they got married.

Ashleigh, who is still looking for her first LPGA title, said playing with Els was as much of a rush for David as it was for her.

“It was funny, when I tee’d it up with (Els) and even Brandon I felt at ease,” she said. “which was cool. I wasn’t nervous. My husband Dave got to play. I think he was more excited than me and he held his own too, so it was cool.”

Source : Golf Week More