Ruffels defeated the world’s second highest ranked female, Andrea Lee, in Saturday’s semi-final, bouncing back from an early deficit to be 3 up through 13 holes before Lee staged a fightback.
Birdies by Lee at the 14th and 17th (from 15 feet to keep the match going) saw the match head to the 18th hole with Ruffels ahead by just one hole but the University of Southern California University star managed to birdie the last to win 2 up.
Tomorrow Ruffels faces Switzerland’s Albane Valenzuela in a 36-hole final.
Valenzuela, the 2017 Women’s Amateur runner-up, and Ruffels, the winner of last month’s North & South Women’s Amateur at Pinehurst, are each seeking to win their country’s first US Women’s Amateur title. Lindy Goggin (1981) and Anne-Marie Knight (1995) are the only Australians to previously advance to the title match.
I was actually kind of surprised early,” said Ruffels of Lee, a player she beat last October, 2 and 1, to secure the East Lake Cup for USC in the final against Stanford.
“I knew that she didn’t have her best stuff today, but I knew that she was clutch and that she was going to come in pretty strong. On 17, I knew she was going to make that putt. She does that stuff. I knew I just kind of had to keep calm, keep my head down, stay patient, and that’s what I did.”
On 18, after Ruffels knocked her 7-iron approach from 156 yards to 9 feet, Lee’s shot from the fairway landed 22 feet above the flagstick, leaving a tricky birdie attempt.
She took plenty of time studying the line, getting assistance from dad/caddie James before sending the putt 6 feet by the hole. Ruffels carefully trundled her attempt to 3 feet, and when Lee couldn’t make the comebacker for par, she conceded the match.
“I’ve never played a 36-hole final but starting the week this is where you want to be,” said Ruffels, whose victory over fellow Australian Doey Choi in the North & South final was over 18 holes. “No complaints. I’m really looking forward to tomorrow.”
Ruffels’ University of Southern California coach, Justin Silverstein, is serving as Ruffels’ caddie.