Ruffels with mother Anna Maria after today’s win – courtesy of USGA / Steve Gibbons
Victorian, Gabriela Ruffels, has advanced to the semi-finals of the US Women’s Amateur Championship, reeling off a powerful finishing burst to defeat American Kenzie Wright in her quarter-final match today.
The 19-year old was facing defeat when losing a 1-hole lead at the turn to go 1 down through 14 holes but birdies at her final three holes saw her take the match 2&1.
Ruffels reached the shortened par-5 15th hole (450 yards) in two and deftly rolled her 40-foot birdie putt to a foot for a conceded birdie to tie the match.
Then on 16, she stuffed her 6-iron approach to a couple feet for another conceded birdie and a 1-up lead and completed the run by hitting her tee shot on the par-3 17th to 18 feet to set up another birdie.
“I was just telling myself, this is good for you to be in a pressure situation,” said Ruffels, who had not gone past the 15th hole in any of her three previous matches. “It’s good to see how you handle it. I didn’t want to shy away from it; I just kind of took it head on and did pretty well.”
Ruffels will now face American, Andrea Lee, who is the number two world-ranked female amateur, is a two-time Curtis Cup team member and is about to enter her senior year at Stanford University.
Lee easily accounted for her Curtis Cup teammate, 16 year old Lucy Li in her quarter-final match and having reached the semis of the US Amateur three years ago she brings both credential and experience to the looming semi-final encounter.
Ruffels, though, is in the middle of a purple patch of form of late having won the North and South Amateur at Pinehurst recently, ensuring tomorrow’s encounter shapes as an intriguing battle.
It won’t be the first time Ruffels and Lee have squared off in a match. Ruffels beat Lee in last year’s East Lake Cup in Atlanta. “It was a great match. I mean, I know she’s one of the best players in amateur golf right now, so I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be fun,” said Ruffels.