08 May 2023 | Professional golf |
Ruffels wins again, on her way to LPGA
by Tony Webeck
An LPGA Tour card in 2024 is now all but secured after Gabi Ruffels completed a four-stroke win at the Epson Tour Garden City Charity Classic in Kansas. After breaking the Epson Tour 36-hole scoring record on Saturday, Golf Australia Rookie Squad member Ruffels began the final round with a six-stroke advantage. A bogey at the second hole – just her second bogey of the week – would be her only miss-step as she closed with a one-under 7 for a five-stroke win from Isabella Fierro (62), Agathe Laisne (63) and Ga Yul Kang (65). A winner in March at the Carlisle Arizona Women’s Golf Classic, Ruffels extended her lead at the top of the Epson Tour moneylist. The top 10 players on the tour moneylist graduate to the LPGA Tour at season's end. Ruffels has already earned more than the 10th-placed player from 2022.
"This win is a big step in the right direction," Ruffels said of her LPGA Tour aspirations. "We are all out here for the same reason and that is to get to the next level on the LPGA Tour. There is still a long season to go but I am definitely making some strides." With the win, Ruffels earns $US30,000 to take her tally for the year to $89,262, enough to have finished seventh on the 2022 Race To The Card.
The 23-year-old broke the Buffalo Dunes course record on Friday with a 10-under 62 and then backed that up with an eight-under 64 in Round 2 to set a new low mark for the Epson Tour with 16 tournaments remaining. Even the largest leads can bring with it expectation and pressure but Ruffels was never truly threatened, birdies at 14 and 16 ensuring she always had a minimum of a three-shot advantage through the back nine.
"I was definitely very nervous, but I knew I had a big buffer which really helped," said Ruffels. "I just tried to play every shot as it was and not get too ahead of myself. "I was just trying to play super consistent and I was able to do that today, so I was very happy." It continues a remarkable run for Australians overseas.
Lucas Herbert (DP World Tour), Grace Kim and Hannah Green (LPGA Tour) and Mark Hensby (PGA Champions) have all won tournaments in the past four weeks along with Ruffels.
Epson Tour Garden City Charity Classic at Buffalo Dunes Buffalo Dunes Golf Course, Garden City, Kansas 1 Gabriela Ruffels 62-64-71—197 $US30,000 T21 Robyn Choi 69-69-70—208 $2,260 T29 Cassie Porter 69-68-72—209 $1,764 T36 Amelia Garvey (NZ) 71-69-70—210 $1,420 MC Emily Mahar 74-74—148
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