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Day ill, Ruffels ready for debut in California

JASON Day hit a speed hump ahead of the Farmers Insurance Open, whereas Ryan Ruffels is full of excitement for his professional debut.

TEEN sensation Ryan Ruffels says he wants to follow in the footsteps of World Number Two Jason Day.

The 17-year-old, who left the amateur ranks just two weeks ago, will make his professional debut at the PGA Tour’s Farmers Insurance Open this week. 

Day is the defending champion at the tournament, though he withdrew from the Wednesday pro-am due to illness and may not take his place in the field.

Ruffels, however, says he is excited to start his professional career, especially at Torrey Pines, the course where he won the 2014 Junior World Golf Championships. 

“I’m so excited,” Ruffels told AAP.  

“I’ve been looking forward to this and it’s a place I’ve played well at before so I’ll be ready to compete.

“I like to see myself on a similar path to what Jason has done.

“I am turning pro at a similar time and I hope I can continue to go down that path because he’s an incredible player.”

The field features 14 Australians with Jason Day, Rod Pampling, Matt Jones, Jarrod Lyle, Geoff Ogilvy, Robert Allenby, Cameron Smith, Rhein Gibson, Marc Leishman, Ryan Ruffels, John Senden Stuart Appleby, Aaron Baddeley and Cameron Percy all teeing up.

Australian Open champion, Matt Jones will be looking to build on some promising form from last week where he made 19 birdies and an eagle at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

While it added up to a mid-field finish Jones' game showed encouraging signs as he gets his 2016 campaign underway.

JASON DAY CHATS ABOUT HIS 2015 SEASON:

 [VIDEO:4541239560001]

Aaron Baddeley and Rod Pampling were the only other Australians to make the 54 hole cut at the low scoring event in the California desert though both finished well down the standings.

Jarrod Lyle was one who missed the final round despite shooting 8-under for the 54 holes he played, his battle to get back his PGA Tour card continuing this week after receiving a medical exemption following his battle with leukaemia in 2012.

The Victorian needs $209,111 to regain his spot, however Lyle is running out of time with just seven events remaining after missing the cut last week.

The big Australian contingent will have their work cut out if there is to be another Down Under victory this week with 12 of the world's top 30 ranked players in attendance at Torrey Pines.

Led by the new World Number Four Rickie Fowler, who won the European Tour's Abu Dhabi Championship in spectacular fashion last week, there is no shortage of high class golfers in the field.

Fowler was brilliant in beating home World Numbers One and Three Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy in the Middle East and will no doubt be keen to add a fourth PGA Tour title to his resume.

While the young guns are attracting the bulk of the headlines it could yet be oe of the veterans who surprises this week, Phil Mickelson playing some spectacular shots in his first outing of 2016 last week.

His T3 finish was an excellent result and testament to the work he has been doing with new Australian coach Andrew Getson.

Mickelson's swing looked visibly tighter last week and the man himself looked confident and energised, perhaps a sign of things to come for Lefty in 2016.

The five-time major winner will take plenty of confidence from his 22 birdies and an eagle last week, particularly given it was his first competitive event since the President’s Cup in October.

Also worth watching this week is American Brandt Snedeker, the American boasting four top-three finishes in nine starts at this event.

His form early in the year has also been good with top three finishes at both the Hawaii events, the Tournament of Champions and Sony Open.

The Torrey Pines South course is one of the longest on the PGA Tour circuit, stretching almost 7000 metres. Players will play rounds on both the North and South layouts, the former being the shorter course.

Photo: Golf Australia

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