A rising star of Australian golf, Ryan Ruffels has been provided a huge opportunity by Australia’s highest ranked player in the world; Jason Day.
Day has nominated Ruffels as his playing partner for the PGA TOUR’s Zurich Classic of New Orleans this week.
A delighted Ruffels looks forward to partnering with his mentor to chase team glory together.
“I met Jason in my first year as a professional, in 2016. We were assigned to the same management group. So, he’s been a mentor to me since 2016. We played for the first time (together) at Pebble Beach in 2016,” said Ruffels
“I spend a bit of time during the winter with him. We spend it in the desert together, and we practice. And then around the Memorial (Tournament), I try and go up to Ohio and spend a little time with him, too. If we get lucky, three, four, maybe five times a year.”
“I think golf is a weird sport in terms of every bit of success you have, you have it on your own. You’re out there on your own, you’re responsible for everything.
“It’s nice if you have success on a team, to share that with someone. So, hopefully, if we have a great week, it would be so much fun to share a great week with Jason as a partner.”
Ruffels, 19, usually plies his trade on the PGA TOUR – Latinoamerica, where he finished tied 11th at the weekend, but will step up to the world’s biggest tour for the second time this season.
“It’s obviously a difference, but the players out here on Latinoamerica are very good, too. Any tour you play around the world, the players are very good,” said Ruffels, who finished tied 67th at The CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges in October last year.
“It definitely is a little more relaxing down here. When you play on the PGA TOUR, there are more media, there are more people, and everything you do is sort of watched. Here you can go about your business a little bit more and you don’t feel quite as much pressure.”
While the Zurich Classic of New Orleans’ provides an incredible opportunity for Ruffels who dreams of playing on the PGA TOUR, the team format also helps alleviate some of the stress.
“It’s actually kind of relaxing because you know that regardless of what happens next week, you’ve only got half the say in what’s going to happen because you’ve got a partner,” added Ruffels.
“Especially in the four-ball format, it’s almost like you have a mulligan every shot. If I hit one in the trees, Jason’s got a chance to hit one in the fairway and be OK.
“In the alternate shot, you’re kind of saying sorry all day. Because you hit one in the trees and you’re like, Oh, I can’t believe I did that.”
Ruffels is familiar with team golf having represented Australia at the Eisenhower Trophy in 2014 and also partnered with Kyle Stanley in New Orleans last year where the pair shared the first round lead alongside the duo of Jordan Spieth and Ryan Palmer.
“We played great other than the third round. We both putted terribly in the third round, and that’s what cost us,” added Ruffels.
“Kyle was such a great partner, and it was so much fun playing in the team format because you never get to do that. You never get to actually cheer for another player, so that’s going to be fun.”
This year Ruffels believe he and Day will combine well together with their individual strengths complementing to produce a strong all Australian team.
“I think, with the way I’m playing right now, I’m driving the ball very, very straight. I think if you tee off on the odd holes in New Orleans, you get three of the par-5 tee shots. I’ll probably take those and try and get us down there and in the fairway,” added Ruffels.
“Jason is just such a great putter and chipper, so as long as I get it close the green he’s going to be good. I think we’ll combine well.”
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