06 Oct 2022 | Professional golf |

Aussies on Tour - What's at stake in Epson Tour finale

by Australian Golf Media

Grace Kim, Robyn Choi, Gabi Ruffels image
Grace Kim, Gabi Ruffels and Robyn Choi all have a chance of securing LPGA Tour status.

By Tony Webeck

Her promotion to the LPGA Tour is not yet secure but Grace Kim can graduate in style at this week’s Epson Tour Championship in Florida.

Kim is one of three Australians in the field in position to earn one of the seven remaining LPGA Tour cards of the 10 that will be distributed at the conclusion of Sunday’s final round.

Given the 21-year-old is currently fourth in the Race For The Card standings, it would take an extraordinary chain of events to deny Kim in the final event of the season.

In addition to her victory at the IOA Golf Classic in May, Kim has accumulated four further top-10s in her 18 starts in 2022 and can still end the year as the leading money winner and the Rookie of the Year.

To do so she will need to win the $US37,500 first place cheque and have No.1 Xiaowen Yin miss the cut, but with No.2 Lucy Li skipping the finale it is possible.

Such is the small margins separating the leading players on the moneylist, the 37th-ranked player can still earn a LPGA Tour card with a win.

That is good news for both Gabriela Ruffels and Robyn Choi.

Ruffels will start the Tour Championship in 14th position but just $6,466 behind 10th-placed Alexa Pano while Choi is just one spot further back and in need of making up a deficit of $7,670 to finish inside the top 10.

As Ruffels seeks to earn status on the LPGA Tour, older brother Ryan has played his way back onto the PGA TOUR by virtue of Monday qualifying for the Shriners Children’s Open in Las Vegas.

Ruffels shot 65 at Boulder Creek Golf Club and then made it through a 6-for-1 playoff to earn his spot. The 24-year-old will make his 20th start on the PGA Tour and his first since the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in February 2019.

“It’s been a tough year but I know I’ve been getting better and getting better quick,” Ruffels said.

“To do something like that is awesome and it’s funny, I played nearly flawless golf all day and I hit it in a hazard on 18 in regulation.

“So when I heard (the playoff hole) was 18 I was like, ‘All right, time to man up and do something good.’

“And I did. I hit three balls in a row in the fairway which is tough to do on that last hole. “I’m proud of myself for hanging in there.

“Golf takes you through a lot of emotions and a lot of ups and downs but I’ve got a lot of trust in the people that are around me now.

“I knew it’s been coming around, it’s just a matter of putting it on the scoreboard.

“I’ve worked really hard to get myself into a position where I’m starting to play good golf again and this is just the beginning.”

Ruffels has made 17 starts on the Korn Ferry Tour in 2022 with a best finish a tie for 18th at the Veritex Bank Championship and has been paired with fellow Australian Harrison Endycott for the first two rounds at TPC Summerlin.

It is a strengthened PGA TOUR presence for the Aussies this week with Lucas Herbert, Cam Davis and Jason Day playing their first events of the new season.

There are four Aussies competing in tournaments on the DP World Tour, Japan Golf Tour and Champions Tour and the contingent is five-strong at the LPGA Tour’s LPGA MEDIHEAL Championship in California. Round 1 tee times AEDT

PGA TOUR Shriners Children’s Open TPC Summerlin, Las Vegas, Nevada 12.51am* Danny Lee (NZ), Adam Hadwin, Lee Hodges 1.13am* Jason Day, Rickie Fowler, Taylor Pendrith 1.24am Lucas Herbert, Chez Reavie, Tom Hoge 2.41am* Harrison Endycott, Ryan Ruffels, Michael Gligic 6.13am Cam Davis, KH Lee, Christiaan Bezuidenhout Defending champion: Sungjae Im Past Aussie winners: Greg Norman (1986), Stuart Appleby (2003), Andre Stolz (2004), Rod Pampling (2017) Top Aussie prediction: Cam Davis TV schedule: Live 12am Friday on Fox Sports +; Live 8am-11am Friday on Fox Sports 505; Live 12am Saturday on Fox Sports +; Live 8am-11am Saturday, Sunday on Fox Sports 505; Live 8am-11am Monday on Fox Sports 503. Japan Golf Tour For The Players By The Players THE RAYSUM, Gunma 9.41am* Adam Bland, Koki Ishihara, Tadahiro Takayama, Yuwa Kosaihei 9.52am Michael Hendry (NZ), Kim Ji Woo, Tatsunori Nukaga, Kenshiro Ikegami 10.14am* Andrew Evans, Yuji Ito, Naoki Sekito, Eric Sugimoto 10.25am* Matthew Griffin, Go Yamamoto, Hide Takeuchi, H.W. Liu 11.09am Anthony Quayle, Sushi Ishigaki, Toru Nakajima, Takamitsu Tokimatsu Defending champion: Inaugural event Past Aussie winners: Nil Top Aussie prediction: Anthony Quayle DP World Tour Open de Espana Club de Campo Villa de Madrid, Madrid, Spain 6.30pm Jason Scrivener, Daniel Bradbury, Stephen Gallacher 6.30pm* Min Woo Lee, Jon Rahm, Adri Arnaus 10.10pm Maverick Antcliff, Yannik Paul, Joakim Lagergren 10.20pm* Zach Murray, Marc Warren, Angel Hidalgo Defending champion: Rafa Cabrera Bello Past Aussie winners: Rodger Davis (1990) Top Aussie prediction: Jason Scrivener TV schedule: Live 11pm-4am Thursday, Friday; Live 10.30pm-3am Saturday; Live 11pm-2.30am Sunday on Fox Sports 505. LPGA Tour LPGA MEDIHEAL Championship The Saticoy Club, Somis, California 1.12am* Su Oh, Yu Liu, Bianca Pagdanganan 1.36am Stephanie Kyriacou, Yuka Saso, Jeongeun Lee6 2.24am* Karis Davidson, Tiffany Chan, Peiyun Chien 5.40am* Sarah Kemp, Ruoning Yin, Min Lee 7.16am Sarah Jane Smith, Yu-Sang Hou, Ayako Uehara Defending champion: Matilda Castren Past Aussie winners: Nil Top Aussie prediction: Stephanie Kyriacou TV schedule: Live 8.30am-11.30am Friday, Saturday on Fox Sports 506; 1pm-2pm Sunday on Fox Sports 505; Live 8.30am-11.30am Monday on Fox Sports 505. Challenge Tour British Challenge St Mellion Estate, Cornwall, England Australasians in the field: Daniel Hillier (NZ), Blake Windred Defending champion: Hugo Leon Past Aussie winners: Nil Top Aussie prediction: Blake Windred Epson Tour Epson Tour Championship LPGA International (Jones Cse), Daytona Beach, Florida 11.33pm* Grace Kim, Jillian Hollis, Jaravee Boonchant 11.55am* Hira Naveed, Gabriella Then, Selena Costabile 4.03am Robyn Choi, Daniela Iacobelli, Dottie Ardina 4.14am Amelia Garvey (NZ), Maria Torres, Britney Yada 4.25am* Gabriela Ruffels, Hyo Joon Jang, Gina Kim 4.58am* Soo Jin Lee, Dorsey Addicks, Regina Plasencia Defending champion: Prima Thammaraks Past Aussie winners: Kristie Smith (2010) Top Aussie prediction: Gabriela Ruffels Champions Tour Constellation Furyk and Friends Timuquana Country Club, Jacksonville, Florida Australasians in the field: Robert Allenby, Stuart Appleby, Rod Pampling, John Senden Defending champion: Phil Mickelson Past Aussie winners: Nil Top Aussie prediction: Stuart Appleby TV schedule: Live 5am-8am Saturday, Sunday, Monday on Fox Sports 505.

LIV Golf Invitational Bangkok

Stonehill Golf Course, Bangkok, Thailand

Australians in the field: Matt Jones, Marc Leishman, Jediah Morgan, Wade Ormsby, Cameron Smith

Defending champion: Inaugural event

Past Aussie winners: Nil

Top Aussie prediction: Cameron Smith

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