Australia’s Gabriela Ruffels wins US Women’s Amateur

WEST POINT, Miss. (AP) — Gabriela Ruffels became the first Australian winner in U.S. Women’s Amateur history Sunday, beating Albane Valenzuela of Switzerland 1 up in the 36-hole final at Old Waverly Golf Club.

“I’m a proud Australian,” Ruffels said. “That’s where I started playing golf. I have such a huge support system back there, and to win it not only for myself but everyone back home is huge, and it just means the world.”

The 19-year-old Ruffels, preparing for her junior season at the University of Southern California, pulled even with a birdie on the par-5 33rd, took the lead with a birdie on the par-3 35th and matched Valenzuela with a birdie on the par-4 36th. With Valenzuela 3 feet from the hole on the 36th, Ruffels won with a downhill, left-to-right curling 10-footer.

“I don’t really know yet. It’s been kind of a blur the last kind of 20 minutes,” Ruffels said. “But this is amazing. This is what you dream of as a kid when you start playing golf. This is the biggest championship in amateur golf. I’m still speechless.”

The 21-year-old Valenzuela will be a senior at Stanford University. She also lost in the 2017 final, falling 6 and 5 to Sophia Schubert at San Diego Country Club.

“I mean, it’s tough,” Valenzuela said. “And it will be even tougher tonight, but I fought really hard.”

Ruffels beat another Stanford player, Andrea Lee, in the semifinals.

The all-international final was the third in event history.

The finalists earned spots in the 2020 U.S. Women’s Open at Champions Golf Club in Houston. Ruffels can play the Women’s Open as an amateur or professional, while Valenzuela must be an amateur.

“Winning a championship like this gives you recognition and opportunity, and I’m looking forward to that,” Ruffels said. “But kind of still going to keep my head down, work hard, and I’ve still got a lot of things ahead.”