Since turning professional, former U.S. Women’s Amateur champion Gabi Ruffels has lived the uncertain life of having no LPGA Tour status. The Aussie bouncing between the main Tour on sponsor exemptions and the secondary Symetra Tour.
But the 21-year-old will get another shot at the LPGA this week after making it through Monday qualifying at the The Oregon Golf Club to earn one of two spots on offer in the field for this week’s Cambia Portland Classic.
Having impressed in almost every start on the biggest stage in women’s golf this year, including finishing T33 at the KPMG Women’s PGA and T19 at the ANA Inspiration, Ruffels will be hoping for a big week in Portland as she attempts to gain a Tour card and some control over her playing schedule.
Ruffels finished at one-under-par for the 18-hole qualifying alongside Malaysia’s Alyaa Abdulghany, a fellow former USC student athlete and the winner of the 2020 Australian Master of the Amateurs. The Florida-based Victorian playing steady golf throughout the day, making just two birdies offset by one bogey at the par-3 8th hole.
Abdulghany meanwhile went out in three-over, before romping home with four-under on the back nine to secure her first LPGA Tour start and deny Ruffels’ fellow Aussie Karis Davidson, with the Queenslander finishing sharing third at one-over following a bogey at the penultimate hole.
Now ranked 134th in the world, Ruffels’ last professional start came on the Symetra Tour in late July when she withdrew from Twin Bridges Championship, and with the final stage of qualifying school to be played later in the year, Gabi is likely to continue chasing starts via pre-qualifying and potentially through the generosity of sponsors and tournament directors.
Played across the same Peter Jacobsen designed layout as the qualifier, Ruffels joins Su Oh, Sarah Jane Smith, Kathrine Kirk and 2019 champion Hannah Green as the Aussies in the Cambia Portland Classic field.
A repeat of Green’s heroics in 2019 sure to take care of the issue of status for Ruffels. Something many wouldn’t put past her based on her fearless play whenever earning a chance to show her wares on the LPGA in the past, particularly given the positives feelings about the course established already this week and the high of recently graduating from USC with a Bachelor of Science.