11 Dec 2020 | Professional golf |

Calm Ruffels leads Aussies at US Women's Open

by Martin Blake

Gabi Ruffels US Womens Open day one _image

Amateur Gabriela Ruffels led the Australian cause on day one of the US Women’s Open with a fine, opening even-par 71 in Texas.

Ruffels, 20, is playing on invitation as the winner of last year’s US Amateur.

Although she missed the cut at her two of her previous major appearances – the 2019 US Women’s Open and this year’s AEG Women’s Open at Royal Troon -- it is not the first time she has been up-close in a major. She was tied-15th at the ANA Inspiration in California in September, proving that she has the nerve and skill to compete at this level.

The California-based Melburnian made two birdies and two bogeys today on the Cypress Creek course at Champions Golf Club in Houston.

She is tied-24th, four shots from the lead held by American Amy Olson, who shot a 67 including a hole-in-one at the par-three 16th hole on the Cypress Creek course.

Ruffels is the world’s No. 10 amateur having made the final at the past two US Amateurs, and is a senior at the University of Southern California.

It is anticipated she will turn professional after she graduates next year.

Ruffels said she was delighted to be competitive as an amateur. "Yes, it's really cool. I mean, I'm not really a leaderboard watcher, but just trying to go out there, see how good I can do, and definitely happy with the round," she said.

Asked if an amateur could win, she said: "For sure. I think one has won (Catherine Lacoste in 1967) one time, right, in the history? It can be done obviously, so it's still early days. Just keep going."

Hannah Green was the other Australian to assume some prominence today, scrapping out a one over par 72 including a chip-in that put the Western Australian into a tie for 35th.

World No. 8 Minjee Lee made a long bomb for birdie at the 18th hole on the Jackrabbit course but was not at her best, carding a three over par 74.

Su Oh started nicely but was undone by a triple bogey seven at the par-four 11th hole and ended up carding a 75, along with veteran Queenslander Katherine Kirk. Sarah Jane Smith opened with a 76.

Tee times for round two have come forward by more than an hour because of the threat of storms tomorrow.

Leaderboard

Hannah holes out on Thursday...

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