Date: September 27, 2017
Author: Mark Hayes

Ruffels puts Aussies in hunt

A sparkling round by Gabi Ruffels has her – and Australia – well placed after day one of the World Junior Girls Championship in Canada.

Ruffels, 17, poured in six birdies at The Marshes Golf Club in Ottawa en route to a three-under-par 69 that has her tied sixth on the individual leaderboard.

And capping an encouraging day for the young Aussie team, young Sydneysider Steph Kyriacou fought particularly well to finish with a one-over 73 despite a double-bogey to make her score count towards the team total.

The two best individual scores count towards the team total, allowing Australia to drop the 76 by young Victorian Alizza Hetherington and finish at two under, tied eighth.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, powerhouse Korea has jumped to the team lead at 10 under, largely on the back of individual leader Seo-yun Kwon’s stunning 65. The United States is second at nine under, while another pre-tournament fancy in Sweden shares third at four under with Denmark and the Czech Republic.

Ruffels was customarily bold in her stroke-making, drilling birdies on the third and fourth holes only to cede the advantage with bogeys on the fifth and seventh.

But in typically swashbuckling style, the Victoria Golf Club member hit back hard and often with four more birdies from the ninth to the 15th. Only a flat bogey on the long 16th prevented her from sharing third place with, among others, US Junior Amateur champ Erica Shepherd.

Kyriacou, as gutsy as ever, didn’t let panic overcome her when she took a double on the par-four 13th. The St Michael’s member calmly birdied the short 15th minutes later to keep her in a share of 26th.

Hetherington, a member at Royal Melbourne but originally from the Northern Territory, simply couldn’t find her normal groove in making just one birdie against five bogeys.

But the beauty of the format in this competition, now in its fourth year, is that she has capacity to have an ongoing large influence on the overall outcome despite sitting T43 after round one.