When a far older Ryan Ruffels looks back on the 2015 Emirates Australian Open, it will likely be with a sense of pride.
The Melburnian fired his tournament-best 68 at The Australian today to mow down all three of his contenders to become the low amateur, winning by a stroke at three over the card.
His conquered rivals included American pair Bryson DeChambeau, the world No.5 amateur, and Jordan Niebrugge, the world No.11.
But for right now, the Golf Australia national squad member, still just 17, feels he let slip a chance to do something even bolder.
“Low amateur sounds good, but I probably had my `C game’ this week and those middle two rounds (74 and 75) were a bit frustrating for me because I know that I can play a lot better and put myself in contention (overall),” Ruffels said.
“But there’s some great amateurs in the field this week – Bryson is obviously very accomplished and Jordan the same – so to come away on top and beat them is nice.”
Ruffels’ downfall this week was his inability to hit the round running, going two over each day through the opening three-hole stretch.
“Yeah, the starts. I might rue them,” he said with a wry grin.
“If you take those out and I’m five under for the tournament and right in the mix.
“It’s hard, and it’s the same for everyone, but you’ve got the toughest drive on the course to start with and nowhere to practice that shot before you start your round.
“I know it’s the same for everyone and I’m not in any way criticising the club or championship at all, but it would have been a good way to get on top of it.
“I just have to learn myself how to overcome that if it happens again at other tournaments.”
Ruffels said he had made a “gradual improvement” after an indifferent performance at the Australian Masters last week.
“Each day I got a bit better in terms of being match ready, even though I didn’t hit it well today,” he said.
“But I played better `tournament golf’ as we went on, so I played a lot better in terms of getting what I could out of the round.
“If I can keep building on that next week (at the Australian PGA Championship), it’s very good for my confidence to have finished like that.”