15 Dec 2020 | Professional golf |
Ruffels shows major qualities
by Martin Blake
Australian amateur Gabriela Ruffels has produced another stunning performance in a major championship.
The 20-year-old Ruffels, a senior at the University of Southern California, finished tied-13th in the US Women’s Open after closing with a one under par 70 at Champions Golf Club in Houston, Texas.
With six birdies, the Melbourne-schooled Ruffels vaulted up almost 20 places to be the leading Australian of the six in the field.
It improves upon her previous best finish in a major – tied-15th at the ANA Inspiration this year – and consolidates her status as one of the most promising Australian players of recent times.
She shot scores of 71-72-76-70 to finish five over par, eight from the winning score of three under by South Korea’s A Lim Kim.
“It's been awesome,” said Ruffels, who last year won the US Amateur. “I feel like any time I can kind of mix it with the pros and know that I can compete against them it's a great week. I feel like I did that this week and just gained a lot of confidence.”
Ruffels has bounced between the USA and Australia through her short life. Born in Florida, she came to Melbourne with her parents for her high school years, latched on to golf and then picked up the USC scholarship and moved to California.
Her father Ray is an Australian Davis Cup tennis player; her mother Anna Maria Fernandez played on the WTA Tour.
She switched from tennis – where she was in Tennis Australia’s junior programs -- to golf at 14 in the footsteps of her elder brother Ryan, who is now a travelling professional, too. It has all happened with remarkable speed.
It is expected she will turn professional later in 2021 after completing her college degree. She certainly knows that she is good enough to compete.
Today she began on the sixth hole after Sunday’s weather delay, and having made three birdies in the first five holes of the back nine on Sunday, she made another three on the front nine including two to finish, at the eighth and ninth holes.
“I played pretty well today, I was really, really happy with the round,” she said. “It was definitely one of the tougher days, conditions-wise, especially this morning it was pretty cold, warmed up a little bit. it was definitely you had to be mentally strong coming back from yesterday, but I had a pretty good start yesterday, I think I was two under through five holes, made three birdies when I started.”
Hannah Green (40th), Minjee Lee (46th) and Su Oh (66th) were all farther back in the field.
The performance of the week, though, came from Korean LPGA Tour star Kim, who made three consecutive birdies to finish in overrunning American Amy Olson to win.
It was her first appearance in a US Women’s Open at 25, although she has won three times on the Korean Tour.
She picked up $US1 million in prizemoney.
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