She was barely two months old when it happened but Gabriela Ruffels has pored over YouTube highlights of Tiger Woods’ epic US Open win at Pebble Beach in preparation for this week’s US Women’s Open.
This week marks the first time that the US Women’s Open has been contested at the storied Pebble Beach Golf Links in California where Woods’ 15-stroke win in 2000 signified the start of what would become known as the ‘Tiger Slam’.
Despite being just 23 years of age and yet to advance to the LPGA Tour, Ruffels already has her own history at Pebble but found herself inadvertently doing some extra homework while scrolling through YouTube.
“I kind of watched the re-run of Tiger in 2000 the other day. That was pretty cool, when he was leading into Sunday by 10, if I’m not mistaken,” revealed Ruffels, a member of the Golf Australia Rookie Squad.
“I don’t normally do that but I figured I was going to Pebble Beach next week, it might be good homework to do. It’s also very exciting any time you watch Tiger.
“Little homework, little watching just for fun.”
A two-time winner on the secondary Epson Tour this year, Ruffels is destined for promotion to the LPGA Tour in 2024.
The first Australian to win the US Women’s Amateur in 2019, Ruffels is making her fourth start in the US Women’s Open and her third appearance at Pebble Beach having twice played in the TaylorMade Pebble Beach Invitational. She had rounds of 71-75-74 in missing the cut last November and is ready to take her Pebble Beach love affair to new heights.
“I feel like whenever people ask me my favourite course, I always say Pebble,” said Ruffels, one of five Australians in the field of 156.
“The minute you set foot onto Pebble Beach you feel a sense of gratitude and peace. The views are so beautiful. Knowing all the history behind it and this area is just so beautiful so it’s definitely great to be back.
“I played pretty well here in the past and I feel like I have built-up knowledge about this course and hopefully I can use that this week.”
In eight major appearances, Ruffels has six top-25 finishes, her best a tie for 13th at the US Women’s Open in 2020 when still an amateur.
She says it was that tournament that ultimately convinced her that she was ready to move into the professional ranks.
“That tournament was special because it gave me the confidence to turn pro. I turned pro two months after that so that was my last tournament as an amateur,” she said.
“I enjoy the big moments and the big stage. With my game, I feel like ball-striking really shines through and helps in those big events and that’s what’s kind of helped me in those big events.
“I do like the pressure and I like the big stage. If I can continue that this week that’d be great.”
Fellow Australians in the field this week are defending champion Minjee Lee, 2019 KPMG Women’s PGA champion Hannah Green, Grace Kim and college star Maddison Hinson-Tolchard.