20 Mar 2023 | Professional golf |

Aussies on Tour: Ruffels takes big step towards LPGA Tour

by Australian Golf Media

Gabi Ruffels.

By Tony Webeck

Twenty-two-year-old Victorian Gabriela Ruffels has taken a major step towards playing her way onto the LPGA Tour with a two-stroke win at the Epson Tour’s Carlisle Arizona Women’s Classic. Her second win as a professional after claiming the Arizona Women’s Open on the Cactus Tour in 2021, Ruffels has rocketed to No.1 on the Epson Tour moneylist as she seeks to atone for the heartbreak of last season. Ruffels entered the final event of the 2022 Epson Tour season with the chance to finish inside the top 10 and earn promotion to the LPGA Tour in 2023. She ultimately finished 15th and then missed the cut-off to enter the LPGA Q-Series where she could also have obtained her card. “It feels so good [to win]. I’ve wanted this all week, especially after the first round when I kind of got into the tournament,” said Ruffels. “I just had to stay patient all day, and I can finally relax knowing that I won. It’s a really cool feeling. “I came in 15th on the Epson Tour last year and still felt like I had a lot to improve on.” A return home to Melbourne for the Women’s Australian Open in December was followed by Ladies European Tour Qualifying School, where she secured playing rights for the 2023 season. A fourth-place finish at the season-opening Magical Kenya Ladies Open was close to the perfect start but it is almost certain that she will now dedicate herself to the Epson Tour and the US for the remainder of the year. Already boasting four top-25 finishes in major championships, the 2019 US Women’s Amateur champion is determined to advance to the premier women’s tour in world golf as soon as she possibly can. “I feel like this year, if I can prove myself out here, then hopefully next year, if I get onto the LPGA Tour, I’ll be super ready," said Ruffels. "Definitely having this win, any win but especially this one, is going to boost my confidence for the rest of the year.” Two strokes in front entering the final round, Ruffels’ bogey-free four-under 68 ensured her status at the top of the leaderboard was never in question. The lead was as large as five strokes early in the back nine and was four right up until American Kathleen Scavo eagled the final hole to narrow the final margin to two. Ruffels made a sole bogey across the 72 holes and she was delighted by her consistency which was motivated by words of encouragement from her mother, former tennis professional Anna-Maria Fernandez, who has been caddying for her for the past year. “I feel like that’s probably one of my most proud things,” said Ruffels. “I made a whole lot of birdies. My mom told me to stay patient, and that’s what I needed to do out here. Turns out it worked out well.” The Carlisle event is one of two Epson tournaments in 2023 with a total purse of $US335,000, the most in tour history, Ruffels claiming the lion’s share with a winner’s haul of $US50,250. On hand to douse Ruffels in a shower of water after the final putt, it was a strong week too for Grace Kim. Sharpening her game in the lead-up to her debut season on the LPGA Tour, Kim closed with a round of one-under 71 to earn a share of 10th, Robyn Choi was four strokes further back in a tie for 29th. TPS Victoria winner Min A Yoon finished five strokes back of Ruffels in a tie for third. A round of one-under 70 was enough for Cameron Percy to move inside the top 20 at the PGA TOUR’s Valspar Championship in Florida while Jack Thompson’s tie for 24th was the best of the Aussies at the DGC Open on the Asian Tour. It was another outstanding week, too, for Kiwi golfers. Lydia Ko solidified her standing as the No.1 player in the women’s game with a third-place finish at the Aramco Team Series Singapore on the Ladies European Tour as Danny Lee clinched his first LIV Golf event in just his second start, holing a putt from off the green at the third playoff hole to win the LIV Golf Tucson event. A final round of 69 saw Matt Jones finish as the best of the Aussies, Round 1 leader Marc Leishman falling to a tie for 13th with a six-over 77. Results Epson Tour Carlisle Arizona Women’s Classic Longbow Golf Club, Mesa, Arizona 1    Gabriela Ruffels    68-67-67-68—270    $US50,250     T10    Grace Kim    68-73-69-71—281     T22    Amelia Garvey (NZ)    73-67-70-74—284     T29    Robyn Choi    74-69-69-73—285     T48    Hira Naveed    70-72-73-73—288     MC    Sarah Jane Smith    78-71—149 PGA TOUR Valspar Championship Innisbrook Resort (Copperhead Cse), Palm Harbor, Florida 1    Taylor Moore    71-67-69-67—274    $1.458m T16    Cameron Percy    72-71-69-70—282    $131,625 T65    Harrison Endycott    72-71-73-75—291    $17,172 Asian Tour The DGC Open Delhi Golf Club, India 1    Miguel Tabuena    68-71-72-65—276    $US135,000 T24    Jack Thompson    69-73-74-71—287    $6,825 T52    Kevin Yuan    70-72-74-76—292    $2,950 T59    Douglas Klein    70-72-76-77—295    $2,362.50 MC    Terry Pilkadaris    75-72—147 MC    Ben Campbell (NZ)    72-75—147 MC    Nick Voke (NZ)    76-74—150 MC    Marcus Fraser    76-77—153 MC    Denzel Ieremia (NZ)    76-78—154 DQ    Scott Hend    73 Ladies European Tour Aramco Team Series Singapore Laguna National Golf Resort Club, Singapore 1    Pauline Roussin    68-69-64—201    €70,713.75 3    Lydia Ko (NZ)    72-68-66—206    €28,285.50 T16    Momoka Kobori (NZ)    75-69-70—214    €7,896.37 T37    Whitney Hillier    75-71-72—218    €3,512.12 T49    Kirsten Rudgeley    76-72-74—222    €2,156.77 PGA TOUR Champions Hoag Classic Newport Beach CC, Newport Beach, California 1    Ernie Els    70-65-65—200    $US300,000 T15    Rod Pampling    67-68-70—205    $27,760 T25    Stuart Appleby    69-67-70—206    $17,833 T37    Robert Allenby    70-68-70—208    $9,600 T37    Richard Green    69-68-71—208    $9,600 T37    Mark Hensby    71-69-68—208    $9,600 T47    David McKenzie    72-69-68—209    $6,600 T55    John Senden    69-72-70—211    $4,100 PGA TOUR Latinoamerica Termas de Rio Hondo Invitational Rio Hondo Golf Club, Rio Hondo, Argentina 1    Jake Mccrory    66-66-67-70—269    $US31,500 T23    Harry Hillier (NZ)    68-68-71-70—277 MC    Charlie Hillier (NZ)    73-70—143 LIV Golf LIV Golf Tucson The Gallery Golf Club, Marana, Arizona 1    Danny Lee (NZ)    68-67-69—204    $US4m Won on the third hole of sudden death playoff T6     Matt Jones    70-67-69—206    $670,000 T13    Marc Leishman    65-66-77—208    $270,400 T24   Cameron Smith    71-70-70—211    $163,000 47    Jed Morgan    73-74-75—222    $122,000

Join our newsletter

Get weekly updates on news, golf tips and access to partner promotions.

Related News

Golf Australia NEW LOGO White Mono_logo
Join our newsletter

Get weekly updates on news, golf tips and access to partner promotions!