To be played at the Greg Norman-designed Sandals Emerald Bay Golf Club, The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic marks the start of the Korn Ferry Tour season for the fourth straight year with six Aussies and Kiwi Steven Alker to begin their quest for PGA TOUR promotion. Australians and golfers from around the world have pledged […]
To be played at the Greg Norman-designed Sandals Emerald Bay Golf Club, The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic marks the start of the Korn Ferry Tour season for the fourth straight year with six Aussies and Kiwi Steven Alker to begin their quest for PGA TOUR promotion.
Australians and golfers from around the world have pledged donations to the bushfire recovery efforts by way of birdies and eagles and stunned by the devastation in his homeland, Florida-based Ruffels will add his efforts to the cause.
“I’m planning on doing a donation through the Bahamas event for birdies and eagles,” Ruffels told the Golf Channel’s Morning Drive program.
“I’m not exactly sure what that’s going to be just yet – I’ve got to think about that the next couple of days – but it’s horrible to see what’s going on.
“I’ve seen so many pictures from back home, where I lived and grew up playing golf and how many people and animals are affected, it’s horrible to see.
“Whatever I can do, whether small or large, I’d love to and I’m going to.
“Hopefully everyone in pro golf and everywhere else gets behind it as well.”
Still just 21 years of age, Ruffels is entering his fifth year as a professional having already experienced many of the highs and lows that life on tour can throw at you.
Given seven sponsor invitations to PGA TOUR events in each of his first two years on tour, Ruffels has had to go back and plot a new path to the top of world golf.
Having fallen to 1,339 in the world at the end of 2018, Ruffels logged a total of seven top-10 finishes on the Canadian and Latin America tours last year and enters 2020 ranked No.609 in the world and with starts in each of the first eight events on the Korn Ferry Tour.
“It wasn’t easy. I turned pro, played pretty well but probably didn’t give myself enough credit for what I did early on,” Ruffels said of his early entry into the pro game.
“I was pretty hard on myself when I didn’t get to the PGA TOUR right away so I had to go back and play a few different tours, find my feet again and get some confidence back.
“I’m starting to do that and now I’m hopefully able to keep moving up the rankings and get back to where I want to be and competing at a high level.”
As difficult as his struggles were, Ruffels had some high-profile support in his corner in fellow Aussie Jason Day.
Like Ruffels, Day was touted for big things at a young age and the 2015 US PGA champion has proven to be a valuable sounding board through Ruffels’ down times.
“It’s been fantastic. He’s been one of the biggest roles in my professional career so far,” Ruffels said of Day’s influence.
“Any chance that he’s gotten to help me out whether it be to play with him at Zurich, get me into a tournament or reach out for practice rounds… We practiced quite a lot in the desert over the winter too.
“Anything he can do he does and he doesn’t have to do that. But he chooses to and for a young guy like me that’s trying to become what he is I guess, it’s very special and something that I appreciate a lot.”
Joining Ruffels at the Great Exuma Classic are fellow Aussies Jamie Arnold, Steven Bowditch, Brett Coletta, Brett Drewitt and Curtis Luck.