Date: May 09, 2017
Author: Martin Blake

Ruffels in Costa Rica near-miss

Teenaged Australian Ryan Ruffels fell just short of winning his first professional tournament on the PGA Tour Latino in South America today despite closing with a 63.

Ruffels, 19, shot a dynamic eight-under to equal the course record at Guanacaste, and soar into the lead in the Essential Costa Rica Classic, worth a prize pool of $US 175,000.

But three players remained in with a chance of overhauling him when they were sent from the course by a storm with a handful of holes to play in their final round, and after waiting overnight, the worst-case scenario unfolded for the Aussie.

Guatemala's Jose Toledo, who was tied with Ruffels at 16-under overnight, came back in the morning to birdie two of his three remaining holes to win by two shots.

The tournament was shortened to 54 holes because of storms earlier in the week.

Outright second place gives Ruffels, a Golf Australia rookie squad member, his best finish in a professional tournament in his second year on tour. It also will push him up the Latino Tour money list with the prize of status on the secondary Tour if he can finish in the top five.

"It was nice,'' Ruffels told yesterday. "I knew at the start of the day we were going to have at best, 54 holes, and I was a long way back, so I knew I had to make something happen a little bit.''

The Australian, who was born in America but more recently schooled in Melbourne, turned in 30 and came home in 33 on the par-71 course.  "That (front nine) helped me a bit, put me on the map. Then the back nine's a little tougher nine, a got through a tougher stretch that I had. If you'd told me I'd shoot 63 that would have been nice.

"It's definitely a gettable golf course. The greens are quite soft, and you can go out there and make a number. I knew guys had done that.''

Ruffels, the former world junior champion and Australian junior champion, made the cut on the US PGA Tour last week in the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, holding the lead after the first round.

It has already been a huge few weeks for young Australians, with 23-year-old Cameron Smith winning his first US PGA tour event last week, and Victorian Brett Coletta qualifying to play on the Canadian Tour.