12 Dec 2020 | Professional golf |

Shibuno leads, Ruffels tops Aussies

by Martin Blake

Gabi Ruffels US Open image R2
Gabriela Ruffels tees off at 17 today on the Jackrabbit course. Photo: Getty

Japanese player Hinako Shibuno took control of the US Women’s Open today but four of the six Australians in the field made it through to the weekend.

They are headed by 20-year-old amateur Gabriela Ruffels, the University of Southern California senior who continues to show what a bright future she has.

Ruffels is tied-29th at one over par after following up her opening even-par 71 with a 72 today that included two birdies and three bogeys.

She is eight shots from the lead held by Shibuno, last year’s Women’s British Open champion, who has shot 68-67 to reach seven under par at the Champions Golf Club in Houston, Texas.

California-based Ruffels had her formative golfing years in Melbourne before picking up a college degree. She was tied-15th at the ANA Inspiration, another major, earlier this year and in the top five at the Symetra Tour Championship against the professionals, and as one of the world's best amateurs, she is plainly world class already.

Swedish amateur Linn Grant is second at four under par, three shots back from the lead.

Of the other Australians, Perth’s Hannah Green (72-73) and Minjee Lee (74-71) along with Victorian Su Oh (75-70) are all at three over par tied-47th.

Sarah Jane Smith fought hard for a 70 today but missed the three-over cut-line by a shot, along with Katherine Kirk, who had a difficult week. World No. 3 Nelly Korda was the most prominent player to miss out on the weekend.

Shibuno, 22, still plays on the Japanese tour where she has become a celebrity after her win in 2019 Open in England as a rookie.

Comparing her feeling this week, she said it was different. "No pressure whatsoever," she said. "Now I'm going to the U.S. Tour and I'm playing a major in the United States, unlike when I was at the British Open, where I feel like I am starting from scratch."

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