Gabriela Ruffels and her caddie (Pinehurst photo)
Gabriela Ruffels finally got her North & South title. A year after falling in the final match to Stephanie Lau, the Aussie took down compatriot Doey Choi in the final match at Pinehurst No. 2 on Friday.
Ruffels, an experienced member of the USC roster, leaned hard on her caddie Brant Hunt, which played a big role in her skillful navigation of next month’s U.S. Amateur venue.
“I trusted Brant every single time,” Ruffels said. “He was always right. He knows this course inside and out, and I put all of my trust in him.”
Ruffels went rogue at No. 14, though, and it paid off. Hunt told her to go for the middle of the green there, but she had ideas of her own.
“I was like, ‘Naahhhhh,’” Ruffels remembered saying. Her approach nestled to 9 feet and she rolled in the birdie there for a 1-up lead she never relinquished.
“This is everything,” said Ruffels, who stars at Southern Cal. “Coming from last year when I was so close as the runner-up, this was my goal. And to do it in match play where anything can happen…I’m just so happy.”
Choi was a worthy adversary, and a close friend. The two grew up playing golf together in Australia. Earlier this year, a 19-year-old Choi nearly won the Australian Laides Classic. She had the first-round lead and finished inside the top 5. Choi was also runner-up at the IMG Academy Junior World Championship last summer. She made it to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Girls’ Junior before losing to Lucy Li.
“It was such a good fight for both of us,” Choi said. “I’m really happy for Gabi.”
While Friday’s final was a grind, it has been that way for Ruffels all week. On Friday morning, she drew Wake Forest player Emilia Migliaccio, who was the match-play stalwart of the Demon Deacons’ NCAA finals run.
Ruffels also got through recent Arkansas grad Dylan Kim, recent UCLA grad Bethany Wu, plus 17-year-old Pinehurst local Nicole Adam.
ABOUT THE North & South Women's Amateur
The Women's North & South has drawn the top
amateur women from around the country. Three
rounds of stroke play followed by four rounds of
match play will determine the Champion.
The 96 player field will be cut to a 16 player
match play field and medalist honors. All stroke
match play rounds will be contested on Pinehurst
No. 2. The top 16 players who qualify for match
play will play two rounds a day until our
Nine of the last 12 North & South Women’s
Amateur champions have drawn paychecks as
members of the LPGA Tour. The equation is near
perfect. Win the North & South Am, go on to
professional success at the highest level.
North & South champions are among the legends
of the game: Babe Zaharias, Louise Suggs,
Kirk Bell, Hollis Stacey, Brandie Burton, Brittany
Lang, Morgan Pressel and Yani Tseng.
Along with the Women's North & South,
Resort & Country Club annually plays host to the
Men's North & South, the Junior North & South,
and Senior Men's and Senior Women's North &
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