Date: February 12, 2016
Author: Martin Blake

Ruffels better than me at 17, says Day

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Australia's top player Jason Day has nominated 17-year-old Ryan Ruffels as "a better player than me at his age" after a practice round at Pebble Beach before this week's AT and T Pro-Am tournament.

Day practised with two young up-and-coming Australians, Ruffels and Cameron Smith, this week and liked what he saw.

At 28, he is already becoming a mentor figure to the likes of Ruffels, who repeated Day's feat in winning the world junior championship before turning professional.

Ruffels, a member of Golf Australia's rookie squad of young pros, is playing his second US Tour event this week on invitation after a stellar amateur career.

Day said of the two, his game was more comparable to Ruffels' than Smith's. "Cam, he hits it very straight. He doesn't hit it as far as us, but his touch around the greens and his wedge game is on point. I think his wedge game is a lot better than mine at that age, a lot better than mine at that age. His short game is probably around the same.

"But Ryan Ruffels as well definitely has the firepower. He's probably going to gain 10 to 20 more yards because he's only 17. His body's growing and changing and once he starts filling out and getting a little bit bigger he'll start getting a lot more distance.

"Same with Cam as well, but there's a lot more explosive power with Ryan. I think Ryan is a better player than me at his age than I was. So, that's kind of exciting for me to see how his career's going to unfold. It's definitely a lot harder to get on to the tour these days, but I think that he's going to do pretty well.''

Day, Ruffels and Smith talked a range of topics, including taxes. "It's kind of a neat experience where these guys, I'm only 28 though, you know, I don't feel that old, but when I talk to these kids, I mean I do feel old,'' said Day. Because I'm talking about taxes and all this other stuff that is very, very boring. And these guys are talking about music and I'm like, oh, I remember those days. But it's amazing just being out here and getting old.''

Smith, 22, the former Australian amateur champion from Queensland, qualified to play full-time on the PGA Tour this season after some great performances including a top-five finish at the 2015 US Open. Ruffels, a former Australian junior champion, is having a handful of starts on invitation this year in the hope that he can earn enough money to qualify for a card next year.

Day, the world No. 3, also is playing at Pebble Beach this week in just his second tournament of the season.