Four years ago, Gabi Ruffels dreamt of qualifying for the US Open. Today, she lived out that dream – with one major twist.
Her dream has come true in golf, not tennis.
Ruffels, 19, beat off a classy field at Californian sectional qualifying today, carding two even-par rounds of 72 to nab the second and final berth on offer into the biggest tournament in women’s golf.
And adding to the Melbourne amateur’s bubbling excitement was the near disbelief that her golf career had progressed so far so quickly.
“I only started golf about four years ago, so before that I’d always wanted to play in the US Open tennis,” she beamed.
“I can’t believe I’ve done this in golf, instead!
“That is completely crazy! I never imagined this could happen.”
The Victoria Golf Club member has been exemplary for the University of Southern California in NCAA competition this year and will join her Trojans teammate Jennifer Chang at the Country Club of Charleston in South Carolina from 30 May to 2 June.
They were the only two players at par or better in a field featuring several touring pros, including Tiff Joh and dual US Girls’ Amateur champion Eun Jeong Seong, of Korea.
In tough conditions north of San Diego, one of very few mistakes Ruffels made through an arduous 36-hole marathon came as she approached her last green, the ninth at the Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club.
“I was pretty nervous. There was no live scoring but I knew it was close and then I had to end up making a four-footer for bogey,” Ruffels said.
“I was really disappointed because I thought I’d need a par at worst, but a bogey doesn’t seem too bad right now.”
The latest addition to Ruffels’ calendar completes a manic six weeks ahead.
She will be a key part in USC’s push to regional championship honours in Cle Elum (near Seattle), Washington, next weekend. Then, provided her team advances, she will play the NCAA finals in Arkansas before heading to South Carolina.
Ruffels has also received an invitation to compete on the Japanese women’s tour at the Ai Miyazato Suntory Ladies Open in mid-June in Hyogo.