Gabi Ruffels – in action today – photo courtesy of Chris Keane USGA
While much of Australian golfing attention is focused on the performances of Jason Day and Adam Scott on the other side of the USA, a 20 year old US based Australian, Gabriela Ruffels, has created further history by reaching the finals of the US Women’s Amateur Championship for the second consecutive year.
Already the first Australian to win the most coveted event in women’s amateur golf when successful 12 months ago, Ruffels reached tomorrow’s final by winning both her quarter final and semi-final matches at the Woodmont Golf Club in Rockville in Maryland today.
Ruffels fought back from a two hole deficit in her morning match against Emilia Migliaccio, holing a 12 foot birdie putt at the last to advance to her afternoon semi-final against Colombian Valery Plata.
The semi-final match was closely fought with no more than a hole between the pair until the 13th which Ruffels birdied to go 2-up. She would lose the next hole but extended her lead to two once again at the 16th and a par at the 17th was good enough to close out the match 2&1.
A feature of her semi-final match was that she birdied three of the four par 3’s on the Woodmont layout.
Tomorrow Ruffels will take on the 17th year old Rose Zhang, of Irvine in California who is currently ranked nine places higher in the world amateur rankings.
Zhang is still a high school student but she has a significant amateur career already behind her, especially in junior golf, so the task for Ruffels tomorrow to complete a remarkable double will be formidable.
“It’s awesome, said Ruffels after play on Friday. “Obviously I’ve done this before, and I don’t really feel the pressure or expectation or anything. It’s mostly coming from myself, to be honest. But I’m just trying to have as much fun as I can out here, and I am doing that, so it’s been awesome.
“Winning the U.S. Women’s Amateur for the second time would mean everything,” said Ruffels today. “I know the list of names that have won it twice and I’d love to join them. It’s the biggest tournament in women’s amateur golf and it would be an honor.”
She even indicated after her semi-final match today that she had not expected to get this far, but her victory last year and that she has been able to fight back from deficits in her matches to date this week suggest she has a real leaning for the match-play form of the game.
Zhang was full of compliments for her opponent tomorrow. “It’s surreal because I watched her win the Women’s Amateur last year, and it just makes me feel so honored to play with her since she’s such an amazing player and an amazing person. I’m just going to go out there and have fun tomorrow and try my best.”
If she is able to win tomorrow, Ruffels will take an even more special place in the history of Australian golf.