Golf Australia

Ruffels rolls on to Elite 8

Gabu Ruffels USGA
Gabi Ruffels progresses to the final eight on day four of the 2019 US Women's Amateur. (Photo: USGA)

If there's one thing hotter than Mississippi in August, it's the golf Gabi Ruffels is playing in its midst.

Ruffels, 19, charged into the quarter-finals of the US Women's Amateur Championship today, dispatching two American opponents in clinical fashion.

The Victorian firstly drilled four birdies in her 4&3 round of 32 victory over Indiana's Haylin Harris.

Then, confronting the dangerous Brooke Seay in the round of 16, the Victoria Golf Club member was ruthless in punishing the smallest errors by the Californian en route to a dominant 6&5 win.

"It was a good day," the understated Ruffels said of her romps around Old Waverly Golf Club in the heart of the deep south.

"This might be the hottest place I've been in my life - it was 110 fahrenheit (43 degrees celsius) today and it's really humid, I'm just dripping sweat.

"So it was good to get the wins against two tough opponents ... and then get off (the course) and cool down a bit."

 

2019 US Women's Amateur: Results, scores and bracket

There seems no such cooling down for Ruffels' game, though, which appears to be going from strength to strength after her second season at the University of Southern California, including a win at the recent North and South Amateur at Pinehurst.

And while some might argue that not repeatedly playing all the holes under pressure at Old Waverly - she also won 5&4 in the round of 64 - could be a negative, Ruffels disagrees.

"I'm pretty content with my matches, nobody wants to go down the 19th," she joked.

"And I still felt the pressure, it's not like it's a breeze out there because they are really good players ... so there's pressure all the time anyhow, it doesn't need to be down the last hole or anything.

"But even going back to North and South, all my matches there were long and tough, so it's not like I haven't been through that lately, either.

"So I'm fine with (earlier wins) and resting up. It's so hot that it could be an advantage at some point."

Ruffels, bidding to become the first Australian woman to win the sport's grandest amateur event, trailed Harris early today when she made a rare bogey on the fourth.

But the key moments followed soon afterwards.

"I three-putted that green and she got up and down from about 80 yards, she was playing well," Ruffels said of Harris.

"On the next hole, I hit it to about two feet and made birdie to get back to square.

"But I think the big (moment) came on the sixth because she had a downill 20-footer curling left to right that I didn't expect her to make but she did.

"So I made a really good 15 foot right to left putt (in reply to halve) and keeping that momentum going was really important.

"From there I played really well and just kept it going."

Seay, who had taken out Steph Kyriacou in 22 holes yesterday and her fellow Sydneysider Grace Kim in 21 at the recent US Girls' Amateur, arrived into the afternoon match rightly confident.

But Ruffels won the first hole and simply didn't relent.

Seay won only the 11th hole, but Ruffels again immediately birdied the following hole to put the issue beyond doubt.

"That score doesn't really reflect how close that match was," Ruffels said modestly.

"She was fighting all the way and is a great player, but I just kept putting pressure on her and it went my way."

Along with other results, it left Ruffels, at No.6, the highest remaining seed in the tournament.

But again, the young Aussie, on debut at this championship, said that didn't add up to additional pressure.

"No, I'm happy with it. It means I obviously feel good about this course and that I'm playing well.

"This is why you play - to be on the bigger stages. I can't wait get back out there."

Ruffels' quarter-final opponent tomorrow is Texan Kenzie Wright, who beat reigning Vic Junior Masters and Port Phillip Amateur champion Min A Yoon, of Korea, to advance.

"Kenzie plays at Alabama and we've played against them a bit as a team, but I've never played against her directly," Ruffels said.

"But it should be a good match again, I'm sure."


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