USGA Report, 11 August 2019: If you are going to make history in the world’s second-oldest women’s amateur championship, it might as well be dramatic.
Gabriela Ruffels converted a downhill, left-to-right curling 10-foot birdie putt on the 36th green at Old Waverly Golf Club on Sunday to defeat Albane Valenzuela, 1 up, and clinch the 119th U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship title. The 19-year-old became the first Australian to hoist the Robert Cox Trophy. She also is the 11th player from her country to win a USGA championship, joining the likes of Karrie Webb, Minjee Lee, Jan Stephenson and David Graham.
A rising junior at the University of Southern California, Ruffels joins Jill McGill (1994), Becky Lucidi (2002) and Jennifer Song (2009) as Trojans to win the U.S. Women’s Amateur.
“I don’t really know yet. It’s been kind of a blur the last kind of 20 minutes,” said Ruffels of her mindset shortly after her victory. “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.”
For Valenzuela, 21, of Switzerland, no words could shed her disappointment of a second championship-match defeat – she lost in the 2017 final to Sophia Schubert at San Diego Country Club.
“I mean, it’s tough,” said Valenzuela, a rising senior at Stanford University who was playing in her last U.S. Women’s Amateur. “And it will be even tougher tonight, but I fought really hard.”
Ruffels, who is No. 52 in the Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking™, knew she had to make the putt on the 36th green with Valenzuela’s ball sitting just 3 feet from the hole after a gorgeous 9-iron, 138-yard approach from the fairway. Her substitute caddie – Mississippi State junior Blair Stockett took over the bag on the 33rd hole when her regular caddie for the week, USC women’s golf coach Justin Silverstein, had to catch a flight home from Memphis, Tenn., for a Monday morning funeral in California – told her the putt would break more than it looked. Stockett knows Old Waverly well as Mississippi State regularly practices at the 31-year-old Jerry Pate/Bob Cupp design.
The stroke was perfect and at the very last second, the ball trundled over the lip into the hole, touching off an applause from the approximately 300 spectators surrounding the green.