Aussies on Tour: Ruffels heeds brother’s advice ahead of LPGA debut


Work hard and have fun. That’s the advice from older brother Ryan that Gabriela Ruffels will take into her professional debut at this week’s Gainbridge LPGA tournament at Lake Nona Golf and Country Club in Orlando, Florida.

The first full-field event of the LPGA Tour season will see Ruffels join fellow Aussies Katherine Kirk, Sarah Kemp and Sarah Jane Smith at Lake Nona, the University of Southern California standout taking advantage of a sponsor’s exemption to begin her professional career.

At just 20 years of age and having only taken up the game five years ago, Ruffels is aware that there is a steep learning curve ahead but has leant on the past experiences of her brother to make the transition easier.

An amateur phenom himself who won the Riversdale Cup as a 15-year-old and the 2014 Callaway World Junior Championship, Ruffels turned professional at 17 years of age and made his debut at the PGA TOUR’s Farmers Insurance Open.

But he struggled to make an immediate impression in such elite company and has passed on what he learnt to assist his younger sister.

“(Ryan) told me that it’s going to be tough out there,” Ruffels told LPGA.com.

“We all talked about it as a family. They all wanted me to make my own decision. Everyone wanted the decision to come from me, which it did.

“Ryan said, ‘It’s not going to be a walk in the park, especially when you don’t have any status.’

“But he also said that I should just go work hard and enjoy it. Have fun. And that’s what I plan to do.”

Australia’s leading male players are also in Florida this week for the WGC-Workday Championship, European Tour players Wade Ormsby, Min Woo Lee, Lucas Herbert and Jason Scrivener joining the likes of Adam Scott, Jason Day, Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith.

The withdrawal of Hank Lebioda has opened the door for veteran Robert Allenby to play the Puerto Rico Open at the Grand Reserve Country Club in Rio Grande while Rod Pampling is the lone Aussie in the field at the Champions Tour’s Cologuard Classic in Arizona.

Round 1 tee times AEDT
World Golf Championships
Workday Championship at The Concession
The Concession Golf Club, Bradenton, Florida
2.58am Wade Ormsby, Brendon Todd, Erik van Rooyen
2.58am*              Min Woo Lee, Trevor Simsby
3.20am Jason Day, Sungjae Im, Lanto Griffin
3.20am*              Jason Scrivener, Chan Kim, Laurie Canter
3.42am Marc Leishman, Lee Westwood, Matt Kuchar
3.53am*              Adam Scott, Xander Schauffele, Matthew Fitzpatrick
4.04am Lucas Herbert, Robert MacIntyre, Mackenzie Hughes
4.26am*              Cameron Smith, Kevin Na, Christiaan Bezuidenhout
5.10am*              Brad Kennedy, Danie van Tonder, Yuki Inamori

Defending champion: Patrick Reed
Past Aussie winners: Geoff Ogilvy (2008), Adam Scott (2016)
Top Aussie prediction: Cameron Smith

PGA TOUR
Puerto Rico Open
Grand Reserve Country Club, Rio Grande, Puerto Rico
11.50pm*            Robert Allenby, Eric Axley, Omar Uresti
2.45am*              Aaron Baddeley, DJ Trahan, Sam Ryder
2.56am*              John Senden, Lucas Glover, Peter Uihlein
3.07am Cameron Percy, Tim Wilkinson, George McNeill
3.18am Greg Chalmers, Andrew Putnam, Ted Potter Jr
4.35am*              Mark Hensby, Rhein Gibson, Chris Nido

Defending champion: Viktor Hovland
Past Aussie winners: Nil
Top Aussie prediction: Cameron Percy
TV schedule: Live Friday, Saturday 2am-5am; Live Sunday 6.30am-9am; Live Monday 6am-8.30am on Fox Sports 503

LPGA Tour
Gainbridge LPGA
Lake Nona G&CC, Orlando, Florida
11.05pm*            Sarah Kemp, Caroline Hedwall, Sarah Schmelzel
12.22am*            Gabriela Ruffels, Gerina Piller, Lindsey Weaver
12.33am              Sarah Jane Smith, Lindy Duncan, Tiffany Chan
3.52am Katherine Kirk, Alena Sharp, Amy Olson
4.36am Lydia Ko, Nelly Korda, Brooke M Henderson

Defending champion: Madelene Sagstrom
Past Aussie winners: Nil
Top Aussie prediction: Katherine Kirk
TV schedule: Live Friday, Saturday 3am-6am; Live 6.30am-9am Sunday; Live 6am-9am Monday on Fox Sports 507

Champions Tour
Cologuard Classic
Omni Tucson National, Tucson, Arizona
4.46am*              Rod Pampling, John Huston, Len Mattiace

Defending champion: Bernhard Langer
Past Aussie winners: Nil
TV schedule: Saturday 1pm-3pm; Live Sunday 9am-11am; Monday 2.30pm-4.30pm

* Starting from 10th tee


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