It’s only been five years since Gabriela Ruffels gave up a competitive tennis career to give golf a try. In that time, the Australian has risen to the top of the college and amateur rankings, becoming an All-American at USC and winning the 2019 U.S. Women’s Amateur title.
That rapid climb continued on Wednesday, when the 20-year-old announced via Instagram that she was turning professional, with this month’s Gainbridge LPGA tournament at Lake Nona to be the site of her pro debut.
The timing of the announcement means Ruffels will forgo her final semester of college eligibility. “It was a super difficult decision to make,” Ruffels said in a release from the school, “but I feel as though I am ready and I’m excited to take my game to the professional level. I have been presented with some opportunities and I’m looking forward to seeing how I far I can go with them. I will be rooting on the USC women’s golf team from wherever I am in the world. We have an awesome team filled with great players and I wish them the best of luck to go all the way this year.”
During Ruffels career at USC she won two individual titles while helping the Trojans win 11 team tournaments. As an amateur, her 1-up victory over Albane Valenzuela in the finals of the 2019 Women’s Amateur at Old Waverly Golf Club, making birdies on three of her final four holes, was the highlight. Ruffels nearly won for a second straight year last August, falling in the final to Rose Zhang at Woodmont Country Club.
In September, Ruffels finished T-15 as an amateur at the LPGA’s ANA Inspiration. That finish locked up a spot for her in this year’s major, which will be held at the end of March. She also posted a T-13 finish at the U.S. Women’s Open in December and came in fifth at the Symetra Tour Championship in November.
Ruffels’ older brother, Ryan, plays on the Korn Ferry Tour.