18 Nov 2019 | Professional golf |
Ruffels moves up again in card hunt
by Mark Hayes
Ryan Ruffels took another stride towards the Korn Ferry Tour today with a rousing finish at the Argentinian Open.
Despite a potentially disastrous triple-bogey on the tricky par-three 12th at the famous Jockey Club in Buenos Aires, the young Australian carded a timely four-under-par 66 to rip through the field into a share of fourth.
With the top five on the LatinoAmerica Tour's season-ending order of merit guaranteed of a card on the secondary American circuit next year, Ruffels moved from 10th to seventh with just one event remaining.
While the tournament was won by Colombian Ricardo Celia in a playoff at 10 under, the key result for Ruffels was actually the third place of American Jared Wolfe, who, like the Victorian vaulted up the money list.
Wolfe, who battled back from his own below-average front nine, went from ninth to fifth on the order of merit and is now the man Ruffels must catch, just less than $5000 ahead.
The final event is the Tour Championship back in Florida in three weeks.
Ruffels burst from the blocks in the final round and was three under through six before back-to-back bogeys.
They were soon wiped away by a brilliant eagle three on the shortish par-five 10th and another birdie on the 11th had the Victorian purring along.
Until the 12th on the Alister MacKenzie-designed course, a downwind par three but shielded on the tees by the trees that line the length of the hole, which also features an "upside down saucer" green.
"I knew there was a bit of wind, but it was 184 yards and I hit my 9-iron 165, but as soon as I hit it there was a gust and it bounced down over the back and dead up against a fence," Ruffels said.
"Sideways for my second, still had no shot, could only knock my third towards the front right of the green and then chipped on and two-putted ... an easy six, really.
"But I learnt a couple of years ago when I missed out my less than one FedEx Cup point about how much each shot can mean, so I just let it go and was really happy with the way I finished."
That streak included birdies on the 14th, 15th and 18th holes as the 21-year-old made his move back up the leaderboard.
"I'm happy to have done that ... only a few thousand dollars between me and fifth now and just one week to go."
The tour takes a two-week break before reconvening in Miami.
"That's come at a really good time for me," Ruffels said of the break.
"I'll take this week off, then have (coach) Denis (McDade) come over the following week and then get into it again.
"I'm going to have (Golf Australia's Luke) Mackey caddie for me there, so it should be great."
Ruffels already has earnt himself several invitational Korn Ferry starts based on his money list position at a cut-off point a couple of months ago.
But regardless of his chase for a top-five berth or those invites, he will play the final of Q-school the following week to try to improve his status for 2020,
"I'm playing well again, so hopefully it all comes together."
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