There’s closing golf tournaments – and then there’s what Ryan Ruffels did today to win his second consecutive Australian Boys’ Amateur crown in Adelaide.
Ruffels, still 16, began today’s 36-hole marathon tied with Christopher Jimenez at two under but with visions of taming Kooyonga after watching Daniel Kolar shoot a course record 67 on Thursday.
Eight short hours later, the young Victorian had not only defended his title, he’d beaten that mark twice in one of the most remarkable displays ever witnessed in the event.
Ruffels, the world’s No.16 open-age amateur, fired eight birdies in the event’s third round to take a stranglehold with a new course-best 65.
Not content, however, he went back out rammed home his advantage with a blemish-free 66 in the afternoon to seal a mammoth 15-stroke victory.
Such margins are rarely accomplished, but when they are it’s normally part of a course-wide scoring-fest.
But not one other player finished in red figures, highlighting the Victoria Golf Club prodigy’s extraordinary performance.
“I was really pleased, not just to win, but play well, too,” Ruffels said.
“I thought there were some numbers out there, so I went out wanting to attack and went after flags.
“I hit a couple of good ones early and was four under after six and six under after nine, so it gave me a lot of confidence.
“Then I went back out and wanted to push on again and stamp some authority on it, so it was great to get that result.”
Ruffels became just the second player in the modern history of the event to have defended the title.
The previous player to achieve the feat was a gentleman by the name of Adam Scott, Australia’s first US Masters champion and recently deposed world No.1
Current Masters participant Antonio Murdaca won the event twice, but not in consecutive years.
And with one year of eligibility left, it would take a brave punter to suggest he can’t establish an incredible slice of history in 2016.
Ruffels won at Heritage last year, but remarkably was also fifth as a 14-year-old two years ago at Pinjarra and seventh three years ago at Bribie Island at age 13.
Even as a 12-year-old, he finished 36th .at Carnarvon in 2011.
The only time he missed the cut was aged 11 in 2010 when he shot rounds of 91-87 in Launceston.
“It would be very cool to win it one more time and I’m definitely keen to come back and have one more shot at it in 2016,” Ruffels said ominously.
Sydney’s Jason Hong finished second at even par overall, his closing 69 bettered only by the champ.
New Zealander Daniel Hillier was third at one over, while Canberra’s Josh Armstrong and Jimenez were tied fourth at two over.