Aussies on Tour: Ruffels takes big step toward LPGA Tour - PGA of Australia

Aussies on Tour: Ruffels takes big step toward LPGA Tour

Twenty-two-year-old Victorian Gabriela Ruffels has taken a major step towards playing her way onto the LPGA Tour with a two-stroke win at the Epson Tour’s Carlisle Arizona Women’s Classic.

Her second win as a professional after claiming the Arizona Women’s Open on the Cactus Tour in 2021, Ruffels has rocketed to No.1 on the Epson Tour moneylist as she seeks to atone for the heartbreak of last season.

Ruffels entered the final event of the 2022 Epson Tour season with the chance to finish inside the top 10 and earn promotion to the LPGA Tour in 2023.

She ultimately finished 15th and then missed the cut-off to enter the LPGA Q-Series where she could also have obtained her card.

“It feels so good [to win]. I’ve wanted this all week, especially after the first round when I kind of got into the tournament,” said Ruffels. “I just had to stay patient all day, and I can finally relax knowing that I won. It’s a really cool feeling.

“I came in 15th on the Epson Tour last year and still felt like I had a lot to improve on.”

A return home to Melbourne for the Women’s Australian Open in December was followed by Ladies European Tour Qualifying School, where she secured playing rights for the 2023 season.

A fourth-place finish at the season-opening Magical Kenya Ladies Open was close to the perfect start but it is almost certain that she will now dedicate herself to the Epson Tour and the US for the remainder of the year.

Already boasting four top-25 finishes in major championships, the 2019 US Women’s Amateur champion is determined to advance to the premier women’s tour in world golf as soon as she possibly can.

“I feel like this year, if I can prove myself out here, then hopefully next year, if I get onto the LPGA Tour, I’ll be super ready,” said Ruffels. “Definitely having this win, any win but especially this one, is going to boost my confidence for the rest of the year.”

Two strokes in front entering the final round, Ruffels’ bogey-free four-under 68 ensured her status at the top of the leaderboard was never in question.

The lead was as large as five strokes early in the back nine and was four right up until American Kathleen Scavo eagled the final hole to narrow the final margin to two.

Ruffels made a sole bogey across the 72 holes and she was delighted by her consistency which was motivated by words of encouragement from her mother, former tennis professional Anna-Maria Fernandez, who has been caddying for her for the past year.

“I feel like that’s probably one of my most proud things,” said Ruffels. “I made a whole lot of birdies. My mom told me to stay patient, and that’s what I needed to do out here. Turns out it worked out well.”

The Carlisle event is one of two Epson tournaments in 2023 with a total purse of $335,000, the most in tour history, Ruffels claiming the lion’s share with a winner’s haul of $US50,250.

On hand to douse Ruffels in a shower of water after the final putt, it was a strong week too for Grace Kim.

Sharpening her game in the lead-up to her debut season on the LPGA Tour, Kim closed with a round of one-under 71 to earn a share of 10th, Robyn Choi was four strokes further back in a tie for 29th. TPS Victoria winner Min A Yoon finished five strokes back of Ruffels in a tie for third.

A round of one-under 70 was enough for Cameron Percy to move inside the top 20 at the PGA TOUR’s Valspar Championship in Florida while Jack Thompson’s tie for 24th was the best of the Aussies at the DGC Open on the Asian Tour.

It was another outstanding week, too, for Kiwi golfers.

Lydia Ko solidified her standing as the No.1 player in the women’s game with a third-place finish at the Aramco Team Series Singapore on the Ladies European Tour as Danny Lee clinched his first LIV Golf event in just his second start, holing a putt from off the green at the third playoff hole to win the LIV Golf Tucson event.

A final round of 69 saw Matt Jones finish as the best of the Aussies, Round 1 leader Marc Leishman falling to a tie for 13th with a six-over 77.


Epson Tour
Carlisle Arizona Women’s Classic
Longbow Golf Club, Mesa, Arizona
1             Gabriela Ruffels 68-67-67-68—270            $US50,250          
T10        Grace Kim            68-73-69-71—281           
T22        Amelia Garvey (NZ)          73-67-70-74—284           
T29        Robyn Choi         74-69-69-73—285           
T48        Hira Naveed        70-72-73-73—288           
MC         Sarah Jane Smith              78-71—149

Valspar Championship
Innisbrook Resort (Copperhead Cse), Palm Harbor, Florida
1             Taylor Moore      71-67-69-67—274            $1.458m
T16        Cameron Percy  72-71-69-70—282            $131,625
T65        Harrison Endycott             72-71-73-75—291            $17,172

Asian Tour
The DGC Open
Delhi Golf Club, India
1             Miguel Tabuena 68-71-72-65—276            $US135,000
T24        Jack Thompson   69-73-74-71—287            $6,825
T52        Kevin Yuan          70-72-74-76—292            $2,950
T59        Douglas Klein     70-72-76-77—295            $2,362.50
MC         Terry Pilkadaris  75-72—147
MC         Ben Campbell (NZ)           72-75—147
MC         Nick Voke (NZ)   76-74—150
MC         Marcus Fraser    76-77—153
MC         Denzel Ieremia (NZ)         76-78—154
DQ         Scott Hend          73

Ladies European Tour
Aramco Team Series Singapore
Laguna National Golf Resort Club, Singapore
1             Pauline Roussin  68-69-64—201   €70,713.75
3             Lydia Ko (NZ)      72-68-66—206   €28,285.50
T16        Momoka Kobori (NZ)       75-69-70—214   €7,896.37
T37        Whitney Hillier   75-71-72—218   €3,512.12
T49        Kirsten Rudgeley               76-72-74—222   €2,156.77

PGA TOUR Champions
Hoag Classic
Newport Beach CC, Newport Beach, California
1             Ernie Els               70-65-65—200   $US300,000
T15        Rod Pampling     67-68-70—205   $27,760
T25        Stuart Appleby   69-67-70—206   $17,83
T37        Robert Allenby   70-68-70—208   $9,600
T37        Richard Green    69-68-71—208   $9,600
T37        Mark Hensby      71-69-68—208   $9,600
T47        David McKenzie 72-69-68—209   $6,600
T55        John Senden       69-72-70—211   $4,100

PGA TOUR Latinoamerica
Termas de Rio Hondo Invitational
Rio Hondo Golf Club, Rio Hondo, Argentina
1             Jake Mccrory      66-66-67-70—269            $US31,500
T23        Harry Hillier (NZ)              68-68-71-70—277
MC         Charlie Hillier (NZ)            73-70—143

LIV Golf
LIV Golf Tucson
The Gallery Golf Club, Marana, Arizona
1             Danny Lee (NZ)  68-67-69—204   $US4m
Won on the third hole of sudden death playoff
T6           Matt Jones          70-67-69—206   $670,000
T13        Marc Leishman  65-66-77—208   $270,400
T24        Cameron Smith  71-70-70—211   $163,000
47           Jed Morgan         73-74-75—222   $122,000

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