08 Feb 2024 | Professional golf |

Aussies on Tour: Rudgeley ready to make her name in 2024

by Tony Webeck

Kirsten Rudgeley Andalucia Costa del Sol Open de Espana
Kirsten Rudgeley is eager for a maiden Ladies European Tour win after some near misses in 2023. Photo: Tristan Jones/LET

West Australian Kirsten Rudgeley hopes to put the pain of a number of near misses to good use this year when she begins her 2024 Ladies European Tour campaign at the Magical Kenya Ladies Open.

A current member of the Golf Australia Rookie Squad, Rudgeley and Kiwi Momoka Kobori are the lone Australasians in action for the LET’s opening event of the season, a season in which sees the return of two co-sanctioned events in Australia (Women’s NSW Open and Australian Women’s Classic).

Rudgeley finished 30th on the moneylist in her rookie season in 2023 but let slip a golden opportunity to log a maiden win in the final event of the season.

Although that missed chance still smarts, the 22-year-old knows it is all part of the process of becoming accustomed to life on tour.

“It’s not great when you miss opportunities like that, but it’s a learning experience,” Rudgeley told the GolfWA website.

“My coach, Craig Bishop, told me to just go out on my first year and take it all in, and I feel like that’s what I did.

“That was good advice, because it’s hard being a rookie, especially all the travel.”

Although reluctant to set specific goals preferring to focus on each week as it comes, Rudgeley does believe that should she be in position to win again, she can finish the job.

“Can I win this year? I hope so,” said Rudgeley, whose amateur wins include the Scottish Women’s Open Championship and the English Women’s Amateur Championship.

“I’ve put myself in the position a couple of times and haven’t quite made it over the line.

“I’m happy with where my game is and my schedule for the year ahead, so if I’m in that position again I’ll be ready for it.”

As Rudgeley chases a first professional win, Rhein Gibson returns to Colombia this week to defend his Astara Golf Championship title.

It sparked the start of a stretch that looked to have the New South Welshman headed back to the PGA TOUR but he had just one top-10 in his last 17 events to finish 40th on the moneylist.

On the PGA TOUR this week, Min Woo Lee and New Zealand’s Ryan Fox make their debuts at the WM Phoenix Open in Scottsdale while David Micheluzzi and Harrison Endycott will be out to build on their top-20 finishes of a week ago at the DP World Tour’s Commercial Bank Qatar Masters.

Cameron Smith and the Ripper GC boys back up this week too, in action at Liv Golf Las Vegas at Las Vegas Country Club.

Photo: Tristan Jones/LET

Round 1 tee times AEDT

PGA TOUR WM Phoenix Open TPC Scottsdale (Stadium Cse), Scottsdale, Arizona 1:42am* Aaron Baddeley, Eric Cole, Joseph Bramlett 6:22am* Keith Mitchell, Ben Martin, Min Woo Lee 6:44am Justin Thomas, Adam Scott, Cameron Young 7:39am Mark Hubbard, Robby Shelton, Ryan Fox (NZ)

Prize money: $US8,800,000 Defending champion: Scottie Scheffler Past Aussie winners: Bruce Crampton (1973), Aaron Baddeley (2007) TV times: Live 2am-12pm Friday, Saturday; Live 5am-10am Sunday, Monday on Fox Sports 503 and Kayo.

DP World Tour Commercial Bank Qatar Masters Doha GC, Doha, Qatar 2:15pm Jaco Prinsloo, Kristian Krogh Johannessen, Sam Jones (NZ) 2:15pm* Marcus Helligkilde, Harrison Endycott, Marcus Kinhult 2:25pm* David Micheluzzi, Ashun Wu, Manuel Elvira 7pm* Jens Dantorp, Alvaro Quiros, Jason Scrivener 8:10pm Daniel Brown, Haotong Li, Daniel Hillier (NZ) 8:30pm* Haydn Barron, Jacques Kruyswijk, Jonas Blixt

Prize money: $US2,500,000 Defending champion: Sami Valimaki Past Aussie winners: Adam Scott (2002, 2008) TV times: Live 8pm-1am Thursday, Friday; Live 8:30pm-1am Saturday; Live 7:30pm-12:30am Sunday on Fox Sports 503 and Kayo.

Ladies European Tour Magical Kenya Ladies Open Vipingo Ridge, Kenya 4:40pm* Kirsten Rudgeley, Madelene Stavnar, Naomi Wafula (a) 9:27pm* Lauren Walsh, Hayley Davis, Momoka Kobori (NZ)

Prize money: €300,000 Defending champion: Aditi Ashok Past Aussie winners: Nil TV times: Live 11pm-2am Thursday on Fox Sports 507 and Kayo.

LIV Golf LIV Golf Las Vegas Las Vegas Country Club, Las Vegas, Nevada Australasians in the field: Cameron Smith, Lucas Herbert, Marc Leishman, Matt Jones, Danny Lee (NZ)

Prize money: $US25,000,000 Defending champion: Inaugural event Past Aussie winners: Nil TV times: Live from 4:15am Saturday, Sunday, Monday on 7 Plus.

Korn Ferry Tour Astara Golf Championship Country Club de Bogota (Lagos Cse), Bogota, Colombia 11:45pm* Brett Drewitt, Richy Werenski, Wil Bateman 11:55pm* Jorge Fernández Valdés, Curtis Luck, Jackson Suber 12:35am* Dawson Armstrong, Bryson Nimmer, Charlie Hillier (NZ) 12:55am Rhein Gibson, Roberto Díaz, Thomas Rosenmueller 1:05am* Dimi Papadatos, Van Holmgren, Alistair Docherty

Prize money: $US1,000,000 Defending champion: Rhein Gibson Past Aussie winners: Rhein Gibson (2023)

Challenge Tour Bain’s Whisky Cape Town Open Royal Cape Golf Club, Cape Town, South Africa Aussies in the field: Hayden Hopewell

Prize money: $US350,000 Defending champion: Ben Follett-Smith Past Aussie winners: Nil

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