After heading to the first tee Sunday just three shots off the lead at the RBC Canadian Open talented teenager Ryan Ruffels endured a horror opening to the most important round of his short career.
Four bogeys in his first eight holes dropped him out of the reckoning and a bogey-double bogey start to the back nine meant all seemed lost.
But Ruffels is one of the most talented young players to leave these shores since Jason Day and showed he has grit to match over the closing stretch under extremely difficult circumstances.
A birdie at 13 was followed by a second double bogey at 14 before Ruffels finished in a blaze of glory with an eagle and two birdies to close out his round, his chip for eagle at the last catching the hole but spinning out.
It was an impressive finish but ultimately added up to a costly final round of 76 and while he won’t be pleased Ruffels can at least take something positive from the final day.
The poor final round cost him a significant sum of money but more importantly was a missed opportunity to amass vital FedEx Cup points as he bids to become a member of the PGA TOUR next year.
As a non-member, Ruffels needs to accrue enough points to match players in the 126-200 range at season’s end to be eligible to play the four event Web.com Finals Series next month.
That series will award 25 of the 50 PGA TOUR cards on offer for the 2018 season and will likely require in the range of 110 to 120 points.
Ruffels had 10 points at the start of the week and had he maintained a share of fifth place would have earned a further 110 points, enough to all but assure his place in the Finals.
But at T32 he earned only 25 points and with only two playing opportunities remaining for 2017, and no guarantee of a start in either tournament, his situation is uncertain.
Ruffels wasn’t the only Australian to lose ground on his 2018 goals, however, the other two to make the cut in Canada also going backwards on the year-long points table.
Cameron Percy finished T70 and slipped from 132nd to 135th while Brett Drewitt was 76th alone and dropped from 190th to 192nd.
Percy needs to climb into the top 125 to be assured of full playing rights next season while Drewitt needs to remain in the top 200 to be assured a place in the finals.
Greg Chalmers and Curtis Luck missed the cut by a stroke while Mat Jones and Geoff Ogilvy were a shot further back.
A second round 69 wasn’t enough for Cameron Smith to overcome an opening 77 and he, too, missed the weekend.
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