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Ryan Ruffels shows improvement in Panama

An encouraging week for Ruffles in opening SAM Tour event of 2019 (Photo: PGA Tour Latinoamerica/Enrique Berardi)
Victorian, Ryan Ruffels, has finished in a share of second place at the Latinoamérica Tour's Buenaventura Classic in Panama, the 20-year old reversing a horror run of form in recent times to finish five shots behind the winner, Jared Wolfe of the USA.

Ruffels, who is playing the PGA Tour’s Latinoamérica series in the hope of graduating to the Web.Com Tour and eventually the PGA Tour, led after the opening round before a second round of 75 saw him slip back.

His weekend was good, however, with rounds of 68 and 71 to finish as the joint runner-up and with this event being the first event of the season on the Latino America Tour, he is in 2nd position on the Order of Merit for 2019.

“I chipped unbelievably the first three days," said Ruffels referring to a strong short game earlier this week. "Had I chipped even decent today, I probably could have given him a little bit of a scare. [Wolfe] was too good. He played great.

"It’s been a lot of progress since the end of last year when not a lot was going right for me. I didn’t quite have it, and I worked very hard over the off-season, so it’s very nice to early in the season see a few things start to pay off.”

Ruffels indicated he has returned to work with the coach he had since he was 11 years old, Denis McDade, and the student-teacher relationship has paid off during their latest iteration together.

“I’ve been working hard. I’ve been playing pretty well," said Ruffels. "We’ve put in time the last few weeks back in Australia. We’ve been working really hard doing all the right things. I’ve started to really turn the corner and hit the ball really well.”

This was Ruffel’s 4th runner-up finish on the Latino America Tour having first played there in 2016 with the occasional start (19) on the PGA Tour via invite.

Ruffels had a disappointing 2018 PGA TOUR Latinoamérica season, playing in 11 tournaments, making five cuts and finishing 71st on the Order of Merit. He didn’t keep his card through his money-earnings, but in December, he played in the Dev Series Final, shooting four consecutive under-par rounds to finish third and earn status for 2019.

The US born but Victorian raised, Ruffels, was amongst the elite of world golf before turning professional at the age of 17 but is still finding his feet in the professional ranks.

Injury in Ecuador the middle of the 2018 disrupted his progress but it would appear that things are well and truly back on track now.

Another of Australia’s former leading amateurs, Harrison Endycott, also had a good week when he finished in a share of 12th.

 

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