Australia’s Ruffels into US Women’s Amateur final

Australia’s Gabi Ruffels and Switzerland’s Albane Valenzuela, two international players who are standouts at American universities, will square off in Sunday’s 36-hole final of the 119th U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship at Old Waverly Golf Club after producing dramatic semifinal victories.

Valenzuela, 21, a rising senior at Stanford University who is No. 5 in the Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking, needed 19 holes to edge feisty high school sophomore Megha Ganne, 15, of Holmdel, N.J., in Saturday’s first semifinal.

Gabi Ruffels Gabi Ruffels (Credit: USGA)

Ruffels, 19, a rising junior at the University of Southern California who is No. 52 in the WAGR, was also taken the distance against Valenzuela’s Stanford teammate and world No. 2 Andrea Lee, 20, of Hermosa Beach, Calif., before posting a 2-up victory.

“I was actually kind of surprised early,” said Ruffels of opponent Lee, a player she beat last October, 2&1, to secure the East Lake Cup for USC in the final against Stanford.

“I knew that she didn’t have her best stuff today, but I knew that she was clutch and that she was going to come in pretty strong. On 17, I knew she was going to make that putt. She does that stuff….I just kind of had to keep calm, keep my head down, stay patient, and that’s what I did.”

“I’ve never played a 36-hole final but starting the week this is where you want to be,” said Ruffels, whose victory over fellow Australian Doey Choi in the North & South final was over 18 holes. “No complaints. I’m really looking forward to tomorrow.”

This sets up just the third championship match between a pair of international players in the event, and the first since 2016 when Korea’s Eun Jeong Seong defeated Virginia Elena Carta of Italy. The only other final between two international players took place in 1910.

Valenzuela, the 2017 Women’s Amateur runner-up, and Ruffels, the winner of last month’s North & South Women’s Amateur at Pinehurst, are each seeking to win their country’s first Women’s Amateur title. Libby Goggin (1981) and Anne-Marie Knight (1995) are the only Australians to previously advance to the title match.