October 9, 2020
Newtown Square, Pennsylvania, USA
Aronimink Golf Club
THE MODERATOR: Here with Ashleigh Buhai, who sits at 2-under on the tournament and 2-under on the day. You've been playing really well of late, but let's focus on today. I know an unfortunate bobble there on the final hole but overall a really solid showing for you today. How are you feeling right now?
ASHLEIGH BUHAI: Yeah, I'm feeling really good with where I'm lying. I executed my second shot like I wanted to on 18, got a big bounce with the greens firming up so much this afternoon, hit a good chip and just didn't hit the best putt. But I would have taken 2-under at the start of the day.
THE MODERATOR: How has the course changed since we got here early in the week when it was soft and now you said it's starting to firm up?
ASHLEIGH BUHAI: Yeah, it's changed a lot. I was hitting 3-woods into par-4s on my practice rounds, and I'm glad I'm not doing that the last two days. So it's for the better, but you've got to stay very patient. It's difficult to get the ball close to the hole, especially with some of the pin placements you've got to kind of take the pin out of your mind and just hit to certain areas. My coach and I, we work on zones and green and yellow zones and hitting lots of yellow zones and just putting 30-foot putts and taking a two-putt, and when you have a chance hopefully you make it.
THE MODERATOR: You've been playing so well of late, in the playoff with Georgia at Cambia and a tie for sixth last week at ShopRite. Has something clicked the past couple weeks or where do you think all the strength in your game is coming from?
ASHLEIGH BUHAI: I thought it kind of started to click at the British Open. I finished tied 11th there and then in the week off after Wal-Mart my coach was up from South Africa. I needed to tidy up my putting a little bit. I've been hitting it good, and that's been the difference. I'm just making some putts. Out here especially the four-footers that you have you leave yourself for par, those are big and that's what keeps you in it.
Q. You made three nice birdies late coming in. What was the highlight of that run?
ASHLEIGH BUHAI: I think on, what was it, 14? That hole I hit a 7-wood in there to probably about eight foot, holed a nice putt. Then 16 was a nice surprise. We had the tee up and it was downwind, hit 5-wood into the left greenside bunker, couldn't be aggressive because it was downwind and it gets away from you past the hole, so I played a decent bunker shot, left myself probably 15 foot and holed the putt. Then I felt I hit a really good shot into 18, unfortunately got a huge bounce.
If I can stand up and execute the shots, that's all you worry for. The bounce is out of your control.
Q. Were you in the left rough on 18?
ASHLEIGH BUHAI: No, I was in the fairway.
Q. But it's just so firm?
ASHLEIGH BUHAI: Exactly, yeah.
Q. I haven't talked to you; what did you do during the break, during the quarantine break?
ASHLEIGH BUHAI: Well, I was in South Africa. We had super strict lockdown. You literally weren't allowed -- a lot of places you weren't able to leave your house. The golf courses were shut for two months. By the time we restarted I had maybe had like two weeks of full practice, so it literally was like three and a half months off for me, but I was okay with that.
Q. What did you do?
ASHLEIGH BUHAI: Not a lot. My husband and I, we live in a two-bedroom apartment, so we moved in with my parents because they have a garden. Luckily I had a hitting net, but that kind of wore off, the novelty wore off after about three weeks and I was a bit tired of hitting into a net. Yeah, we just had to stay home and be patient really.
Getting out of South Africa was very difficult for us. Normally we flew through Dubai. It's normally maybe an 18-hour trip. It took us 38 hours to get back to the States. We had a little red tape, but it was good to finally get here and get playing again. I've just tried to build every week and be patient, and finally things are starting to come together.
Q. What was the route?
ASHLEIGH BUHAI: We had to fly Johannesburg-Dubai, Dubai-Chicago, but because the airport was completely shut -- we only live 15 minutes from the airport. By the time we left home to boarding the plane was seven hours later. You had to go to hotel pre-check, get bussed to the airport. Yeah, it was an experience, that's for sure.
Q. Was that the longest you'd been in South Africa in a while?
ASHLEIGH BUHAI: Yeah, definitely. I think it was close to four months.
Q. Was it at least nice to have maybe a little bit of downtime even though we don't like the reason why, but at least you had the time?
ASHLEIGH BUHAI: Yeah, it's always nice to be home and in your home comfort, sleep in your own bed, but it did get to a point where you're going to hit your breaking point where you can't do what you love doing, and I think for me what worried me more was was I even going to be able to get back to the States because at a point that was a thought, and I wanted to get back for the restart. Everybody was trying to get out to work. I know a lot of professional golfers had a lot of hassle, but I know our borders are back open now, and I'm really hoping it stays that way so I can go back home after CME.
Q. What do you like most about this golf course and how do you feel the course has been set up the first two rounds?
ASHLEIGH BUHAI: I think it's been set up really well. Obviously it's tough but it's a major, so that's how it has to play and it needs to play. The fairways are generous, but you have to hit it into good areas to leave yourself good angles, and I think mainly it's the greens, hitting it into the right areas on the greens and staying very patient. You're going to go -- you could go eight, nine holes with just leaving yourself 30-footers and you have to just accept them. I think as long as you do that, you'll be fine around here.
Q. How easy has it been to play a tournament about an hour away from here last week and then coming here this week?
ASHLEIGH BUHAI: Yeah, it's nice. Anytime you can throw your stuff in a car and not have to fly, it's great. It was easy getting here Sunday, also with the fact we have to get tested, being tested Sunday, having our results Monday morning. It's a huge help and you can get on with your week.
Q. Were there mixed emotions leaving Portland? You came to close to the win, but you had to have a lot of positives I would think for the week.
ASHLEIGH BUHAI: Yeah, more positives than negatives. I mean, the fact that I was seven behind going into that last round, if you told me I'd be in a playoff, I'd be like, let's go. I would never have thought that. I remember hitting my second shot into 18 and I was trying to play for one of those two spots for the U.S. Open and I holed my putt and Tania, my caddie, and I said, okay, I think we're top 5, we've got a spot, and then we walked off and we're like, okay, we've got another shot at something else here. I took all the positives out of that, ran with it, played well last week in ShopRite, had a good final round again, so just try to keep that going.
Q. Your husband is a caddie out here; when you go home at night, do you talk about the golf course? Do you talk about your round?
ASHLEIGH BUHAI: Yeah, I mean, he caddied for me for eight years, but so many -- I think last week was the first time we were actually the same side of the draw. We're always opposite side. So I think it's good. We do go home, ask how each other's day was and get away from it, don't try to talk golf too much.
Q. When did he stop caddying for you?
ASHLEIGH BUHAI: I think this is my -- we got married in December 2016 and then from January 2017 he started working for other players.
Q. Why was that?
ASHLEIGH BUHAI: Some people say it might be good to stay married. No, it was a case of, I think, we needed a change. There was a lot of pressure on me. Everything was coming out of the same basket, and I felt I became too reliant on him. Nobody knows my game better, and I've always -- I grew up playing feel golf, and I feel I got a little away from that, being too reliant on him. Like I said, when you're together for that amount of time, time in the day, it gets tough going back, especially when you've had a bad round and you're both unhappy. When things are going great, there's nothing better than doing well with your spouse, but this way at least if I have a bad week and he has a good week, it evens it out and vice versa. We take a little bit from each basket now, hopefully putting it together.
Q. And at the end of the day you're still together?
ASHLEIGH BUHAI: Yes, we're still together.
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