06 Nov 2019 | Professional golf |
Win without a win for Ruffels
by Mark Hayes
Ryan Ruffels had planned to win his way off the LatinoAmerica Tour.
But even though that breakthrough victory has remained tantalisingly at arm's length this season, the young Victorian has notched an achievement that will change his life from next year.
Ruffels, 21, was in the top 10 on the US PGA's tertiary South American tour when the recent Peru Open wrapped up, where has he been all season long.
And from that position, the former dual Australian Junior champion has earnt himself a berth in the final stage of the Korn Ferry Tour's qualifying school in mid-December.
"And everyone who gets to that stage is guaranteed some status on Korn Ferry next year," Ruffels excitedly told Golf Australia from Argentina today.
"It's obviously important to do as well as you can in Q-school and improve your status, but it's nice to know that I'll be able to play up there next year."
Naturally, with just three events to play on the LatinoAmerica schedule, the Florida-based Aussie is hoping he can convert his myriad chances this year into that elusive victory to celebrate that graduation of sorts.
"I've been close a few times this year (three times a runner-up and another pair of third places, one of each coming in Canada on the Mackenzie Tour), so it would be nice to get over the line soon," he said.
"But I feel like I'm playing much more consistenly now and I've been 12th and 13th lately without having my best stuff ... so that's important, too."
Ruffels sits 10th on the tour's Order of Merit, led comfortably by Argentinian Augusto Nunez.
But positions from No.2 to No.10 separated by just in excess of $15,000, the Australian knows one more good week will have him back inside the top five who will earn full Korn Ferry Tour status the easier way.
"That's obviously still the main goal and ... I feel like there's a really good week just around the corner here, so with it being that close, another top two or three finish and I'd hopefully be back in the top five anyhow."
The tour has shifted to the southern reaches of the Andes Mountains this week for the Argentina Classic at the spectacular Chapelco Golf Resort in Patagonia.
From there it's back to Buenos Aires next week for the Argentina Open and then two weeks off before the tour finale in Florida on 5-8 December, the same week as the Australian Open.
"I'm really disappointed I won't get to play in the Aussie summer again this year, but I think everyone understands that I have to do these events (including the Q-school that follows)," Ruffels said.
"But hopefully if things work out well, I won't have to worry about this again from now on and I'll be able to come home and play a full Aussie summer next year."
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