Date: February 02, 2016
Author: Mark Hayes

With Ruffels, you’ll get one hell of a fight

Newsflash: Ryan Ruffels will finish higher than T43 in his professional career.

And he will make more than the $USD20,843 that result pocketed at the Farmers Insurance Open today.

What neither number conveys is what an incredible performance the Melburnian turned in on professional debut.

Against a high-quality field.

In atrocious closing-round conditions.

Amid a storm of controversy.

At one of the most storied clubs – and toughest courses – the US PGA Tour visits annually.

And at age 17.

It’s easy to flick down a PGA Tour leaderboard and be blasé about those who weren’t in contention late in the final round.

But, if you’re older than Ruffels – odds will say that you are – have a think about what you were doing with your golf at age 17.

If you’re still approaching 17, imagine what you’d have to do to get to that stage in the next couple of years.

And then throw in a circus given a lot of fertiliser by American media surrounding Phil Mickelson, and ask yourself again, how would you cope – on debut?

We have no way of knowing what Ruffels will do in a fortnight when he next tees it up in the Pebble Beach AT&T Pro-Am.

If you’re new to Ruffels, his mindset and capacity to compete, one thing you have already learnt is that you can take it to the bank that he will never quit.

He will always fly the Aussie flag high and proudly and take in all the life and sporting lessons he’s absorbed in his dual-country upbringing.

And with that, he’ll spit out one hell of a fight.

Ruffels is on a mission – to ultimately make it to the top of the golfing mountain, but more pressingly, to match the FedEx Cup points of last year’s 125th-place finisher inside seven tournament starts on the big stage.

Time will tell whether he can achieve either or both.

But an eagle up the last at Torrey Pines today to cut through a swathe of far bigger names on the leaderboard tells you he’s not going to be overawed by anything in the quest.

Ruffels, a Golf Australia rookie squad member, might not win in these seven starts; he might have to take a different path to his ultimate destination.

But to borrow a line from “Molly” Meldrum, do yourself a favour, and watch how he goes about the challenge.

Then think to yourself of the joy he could bring you as an Aussie golf fan in years to come.