AMATEUR GABRIELA RUFFELS JOINS THE FIELD IN DAVIDSON
She won the 2019 U.S. Women’s Amateur and the 2019 North & South Amateur, was the 2020 U.S. Women’s Amateur runner-up and now Gabriela Ruffels (Melbourne, Australia) is at River Run Country Club in Davidson, N.C. as one of two tournament sponsor exemptions for the 13th annual Epson Tour Championship.
“I was super excited to get the invite to play this week,” said Ruffels. “It’s the Tour Championship so you are going to get the best players out here. I’m looking forward to seeing how my game lines up against them.”
Ruffels has competed in two LPGA Tour major championships so far in 2020—the AIG Women’s Open and ANA Inspiration. Her finish at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, Calif., was particularly notable, not only because she made the cut, but because she ended in a tie for 15th.
“My parents live in the desert, so I was able to stay in my own bed that week which is always nice. It was awesome to be in contention after a few days and see how I reacted to that. To get a top-15 finish was pretty cool,” Ruffels said. “It really is that next level up, here on the Epson Tour. It’s so different from the college tournaments so it’s nice to be able to be part of it.”
Currently a senior at the University of Southern California, Ruffels is studying for a major in Business Administration. She has represented her native country of Australia in several events including the 2017 World Junior Girls Championship. More recently Ruffels competed in the 2019 Arnold Palmer Cup with current Epson Tour members Ana Belac and Frida Kinhult, both in the field this week.
“We won and I think it was the first time in a long time that the International Team took the champion title,” said Ruffels. “It was a fun week for all of us where we can chill and have a good time. The format is great, and I think we all became really great friends after that week.”
EPSON TOUR CONCLUDES 40TH ANNIVERSARY SEASON
This week on the 2020 “Road to the LPGA” features the 10th and final stop of the season, the Epson Tour Championship. Despite a three-month break and shortened season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Epson Tour has experienced several highlights leading up to the Epson Tour Championship.
Some of the top moments include traveling to six different states for 10 total events; champions from six different countries (United States, People’s Republic of China, Spain, Chinese Taipei, Finland, Slovenia); the Founders Tribute at Longbow Golf Club champion Sarah White (Grand Rapids, Michigan) joining the field on a Women’s All Pro Tour exemption before defeating Sophia Popov (Heidelberg, Germany) in a playoff as a non-member to earn Epson Tour membership, the week before Popov won the AIG Women’s Open; Matilda Castren (Helsinki, Finland), the first Finnish champion in Epson Tour history, winning inaugural Mission Inn Resort and Club Championship presented by IOA; and rookie Ana Belac (Portoroz, Slovenia) claiming her first title just months after her senior season at Duke University was ended due to COVID-19.
“It’s especially rewarding to arrive at the Epson Tour Championship this year. The fact that we have successfully completed the entirety of the abridged 10-tournament schedule speaks to the willingness of our partners, host venues and tournament volunteers to be both flexible and accommodating,” said Mike Nichols, the Chief Business Officer of the Epson Tour.
It is the first time in Epson Tour Championship history that River Run Country Club serves as host of the season-ending tournament. Since the event’s inception in 2008, it was played every year at LPGA International in Daytona Beach, Fla., except 2016 when it was contested at Alaqua Country Club in Longwood, Fla., due to Hurricane Matthew. On Friday, the top five players on the Volvik Race for the Card money list will earn exemption into the 2020 U.S. Women’s Open from Dec. 10-13 in Houston.
“I’m especially proud of the hard work from our Tour staff and cooperation of the players,” Nichols said. “Because we’ve collectively pulled together to make this happen, five of our members will earn their place in next month’s U.S. Women’s Open and membership on the 2021 LPGA Tour, accomplishments in which we can all take great pride.”
- Race for the Card