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News You May Have Missed: June 2024 - Australian Golf Digest News You May Have Missed: June 2024 - Australian Golf Digest

Aussie of the month: Hannah Green

Who else? The Perth tour pro briefly became Australia’s top-ranked golfer courtesy of a second LPGA Tour victory of the year at the LA Championship in April, her second straight year winning the event at the delightful Wilshire Country Club. 

Green ascended to a career-high ranking of world No.7, leapfrogging fellow West Australian Minjee Lee (for one week!) and men’s world No.19 Jason Day for top spot across the men’s and women’s games. Green, who is chasing her second career major having won the 2019 Women’s PGA, will join Lee as Australia’s Olympic women’s team in less than two months at the Paris Games.

Golfers in the news

LPGA Rookie of the Year candidate: Gabi Ruffels

The Victorian earned her career-best result on the LPGA Tour in only the first half of her rookie season. Ruffels finished third at the LPGA Founders Cup in mid-May, which eclipsed her share of third at the Se Ri Pak Championship earlier this year for best result on tour. 

Ruffels, who is now ranked world No.59 after her third placing, was asked about the Olympics in Paris in August. But the 24-year-old said the Olympics were not exactly on her mind. World No.8 Minjee Lee and world No.9 Hannah Green will represent the two-player women’s team for Australia. The only way Ruffels could book a spot on the team is to climb within the world’s top 15 before the mid-June deadline. A country can send as many as four players to the Olympics if they are all ranked within the top 15. If an eligible country doesn’t, it sends the two best-ranked golfers. “It would mean the world, but it’s a long shot,” Ruffels said. “Australia is a pretty strong country and it’s cool to see. I mean, I’ve looked up to those girls (Green and Lee). Hopefully one day [I’ll make the Olympics], if not this year, hopefully another year.”

LIV Golf Adelaide hits the right note

The second installment of LIV’s flagship event at The Grange Golf Club in South Australia won over the Australian public, and the admiration of the golf world, once again. There were 94,000 fans through the gates during the three-day, 54-hole event while 3 million total viewers were recorded by broadcaster Channel 7 (with average audiences in the hundreds of thousands). Australia now has a truly world-class golf tournament and it’s great to see. The icing on the cake was seeing Cameron Smith and his all-Australian Ripper GC side win the teams event in a playoff against the all-South African Stinger GC. Brendan Steele won the individual title.

Speaking of Smiths, I

Hugo Smith may not be making headlines right now, but no doubt he will in years to come. The promising 7-year-old from Queensland has won two national junior titles. Smith won the US Kids events held in Australia at Moonah Links in December and again at its recent Hunter Valley stop. Remember the name, although that won’t be hard.  

SPeaking of Smiths, II

Sanctuary Cove Golf recently revealed Cameron Smith as the club’s new superintendent. Hold your horses, it’s not the mullet-wearing, 150th Open champion at St Andrews you’re thinking of. This Cam Smith was the superintendent at Bonnie Doon in Sydney for eight years. Although he, too, is originally from Queensland, where he completed his apprenticeship at RACV Royal Pines.

Luck’s snake encounter

At the recent Cottesloe Open at Cottesloe Golf Club in Perth, home hero Curtis Luck, who was on a rare trip home in Australia from his Korn Ferry Tour commitments in the US, received a bizarre free drop that helped him set a new course record. At the course he called home as a junior, Luck and Braden Becker both set course-record 65s. Luck rattled off eight birdies and a lone bogey in his seven-under round. After one errant drive, though, Luck found his ball in a terrifying lie. “The one tee shot that was in a bit of trouble nestled right in close to a snake,” Luck said. “We tried to get it to move so I could play the shot and the thing was just not budging and ended up staying in the bush that I needed to pretty much stand on.”

Birdie of the month: Trendy and trending for Jason Day

Your correspondent is a huge fan of Jason Day’s Malbon outfits. In an otherwise flat year for men’s golf – well, flat until Rory McIlroy won the Wells Fargo Championship by five shots the week before the PGA Championship – the most exciting development in pro golf for the first five months of 2024 were the adventurous and chic outfits the former world No.1 was wearing on the course. In April and May, Day literally was listed as “trending” on X (formerly Twitter) based on some bold clothing scripts his LA-based golf streetwear sponsor had him wear. 

Bogey of the month: Min Woo Lee’s signature snub

Organisers of the PGA Tour’s Wells Fargo tournament hit one out-of-bounds when they decided to not give a sponsor’s invitation to world No.34 Lee when finalising the field. Four sponsor’s invitations were given out to the elite $US20 million event: Matt Kuchar, Adam Scott, Webb Simpson and Gary Woodland. Woodland is a semi-recent US Open champion and an incredible story. But as members of the PGA Tour’s Policy Board, Scott and Simpson (almost exclusively Simpson, given Scott has had solid results on the PGA and DP World tours this year and is ranked world No.53) have been questioned on social media over the number of invitations they have received to signature events. Scott has more than justified that invitation, in the past and this year. 

But Kuchar and Simpson? Really? Simpson won the 2012 US Open and both he (2018) and Kuchar (2012) have won a Players Championship. But what has either done lately? Some on social media stated Simpson has been a Quail Hollow member since 2011 and a resident on the course since 2014. Who cares? You don’t see the Masters inviting Augusta-area residents just because they live nearby.

  green: Getty images/harry how; getty images: jared C. Tilton, aric Becker/isi photos