Ryan Ruffels didn’t sleep much in preparation, but it barely bothered the young Victorian in an impressive professional debut near San Diego today.
Ruffels, 17, in no less glaring spotlight than the PGA Tour’s Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, signed for a two-under-par 70 in an eye-catching round on the North Course.
And while he’s four shots behind surprise leaders Scott Brown (South) and Andrew Loupe (North) in a star-studded field, Ruffels was happy enough to have the momentous occasion under his belt.
“It wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be,” Ruffels said after his round.
“I didn't sleep much last night, I was pretty nervous and anticipating that first tee shot for a bit – I practised that on the range for a while.
“I got up there and hit a beauty down the first, tight little tee shot, hit a nice fade down there, which was good. I hit a fairway and a green to start off which settled the nerves a little bit and I was able to get in the round from there.
“That's probably the worst score I could have shot, which is actually kind of motivating for me because if I keep doing that and sinking a few putts it's going to be quite good from here.”
Ruffels, who started his round on the 10th hole, made birdies on the 15th and 16th holes, then another on the second to storm to three under and within two of the lead at the time.
But a bogey on the seventh dropped him to two under and a share of 34th position – the leading Aussie in a 13-strong group including national champion Matt Jones (-1), Geoff Ogilvy (-1) and world No.2 Jason Day (E).
The day’s best scores were generally recorded on the North Course, but tomorrow’s second-round appointment with the South Course – where he won the world junior title in 2014 – holds no fears for Ruffels.
“I'm not intimidated by the South Course. I've played good rounds out there and obviously, it's a little tougher now with the rough up and that sort of stuff,” he said.
“But I'm playing good, so there's nothing that's going to stop me. If I keep playing like that, nothing's going to stop me from shooting low numbers tomorrow.
“It's funny, the way I played today, I think it almost would have been better on the South Course because I hit the ball so well and hit a lot of fairways and stuff.
“So if can I keep the ball striking up, which you’ve got to do on the South Course, then it should be fine for tomorrow and hopefully post another good number.”