11 Feb 2021 | Professional golf |
Ruffels takes professional plunge
by Mark Hayes
Australian golf’s brightest amateur star has taken the professional plunge.
Victorian Gabi Ruffels has this morning announced her plans and will immediately get her first start as a pro on the LPGA Tour in this month’s Gainbridge event in Orlando.
She leaves the amateur game as No.6 in the world, but has already climbed to No.212 on the Rolex Rankings after limited but supremely impressive starts in pro events.
“I’m excited to finally announce that I am turning professional,” Ruffels, 20, said from Los Angeles.
“I’ve been lucky enough to have a successful amateur run and am excited to take the next step in my golfing career.
“I feel as though now is a great time for me; I’m excited and ready to capitalise on my rookie year as a professional while also finishing my degree at the University of Southern California.”
Ruffels became the first Australian to win the world’s most sought amateur prize, the US Women’s Amateur in 2019 and came within millimetres of defending her crown last year.
That meant she had 11 straight match victories in USGA competition, the longest streak to start a career in more than a century.
She has been a standout with USC in her collegiate career, but importantly has looked right at home in limited opportunities on the LPGA Tour to date.
Her results, remarkably, already include two top-15 finishes in major championships.
Golf Australian high performance general manager Brad James was delighted that Ruffels had taken the next step.
“Gabi has been exemplary on and off the course at home and abroad over the past four or five years and this is the logical progression for her,” James said.
“We are happy that she’s going to complete her studies while adapting to professional golf and are full of confidence that she will acquit herself well at the highest levels and we’ll offer her as much support as she needs to do so.”
WPGA Tour of Australasia CEO Karen Lunn said it was “really exciting to welcome Gabi to the professional ranks”.
“Her record over the past few seasons has been exemplary, both in college and amateur events.,” Lunn said.
"Gabi has proven she has both the talent and the temperament to succeed at the highest level when she has competed in LPGA Tour events as an amateur, so I have absolutely no doubt that Australia has another star in our midst and I can't wait to watch her compete regularly against the world's best golfers."
Ruffels, a member at Victoria Golf Club, was thrilled with the backing.
“I’d just like to say a huge thanks to everyone back home in Australia for all their support in my golf career so far,” she said.
“Although I have been living and competing in the US, I have felt so much support from back home and I’m extremely excited to remain in the Golf Australia pathway for as long as I can because it’s been fundamental to me getting this far.”
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