SEVENTEEN year old Aussie amateur golfer Ryan Ruffels had had a very auspicious start to a possible US PGA Tour career with a six under 66 first round at the RBC Canadian Open in Toronto.
The young Victorian outshone the likes of Jason Day (68), Bubba Watson (68) and Jim Furyk (68), notching three unanswered birdies on his front nine (he started on 10) and his first eagle on his 11th hole.
After day one of the event he was just two strokes behind leader Emiliano Grillo tied in fourth place.
Ruffels is playing in the event on a sponsor’s invitation as one of the world’s top amateurs.
The Victoria Golf Club member missed the cut when he played in the French Open recently but was a crowd favourite when he finished 21st at the Australian Open in Sydney last November.
Ruffels, still going to school in Melbourne, said the performance of three amateurs finishing in the top 15 at the British Open Championship last week had inspired him.
“That kind of gave me the confidence that I could match it with these guys, just like they did last week,” he said. “My coach (Denis McDade) was out here the first few days — Monday and Tuesday — and we worked on a few things. The game felt good and I really like the course. It kind of clicked today.”
Ruffels said he’s learning a lot from the tour regulars.
“I had a practice round with KJ Choi and he showed me some things out of the bunkers that were some of the coolest things I’ve seen,” he said. “I walked off and said ‘that’s the most valuable practice round I’ve ever had’. I got to meet Jason Day as well and we had a bit of a chat, all the things you don’t get to do at an amateur tournament. I’m getting to meet my idols and play against them.”
Allenby fires caddie mid round
Apart from Day backing up after his T4 finish at The Open and potting his own eagle on the 10th at the Glen Abbey Golf Club in Ontario, the other Aussie making news was Robert Allenby, who split with his caddie Mick Meddlemo mid round after a disagreement over club selection. Allenby later withdrew after a disastrous 9-over 81.
Allenby later said disagreements with his caddie had become a common occurrence.
“I said to him, ‘You know this happens every week. This has happened for like, the last three or four or five months. We keep making bad mistakes and you’re not helping me in these circumstances.’”
Allenby said on the par five 13th, on the advice of Meddlemo, he hit an 8-iron – instead of the 7-iron Allenby thought was the right club – into the green. The shot ended up in a creek and Allenby proceeded to make a triple-bogey.
“He just lost the plot at me,” Allenby said. “He got right in my face as if he wanted to just beat me up. I said, ‘Stop being a such-and-such and calm down and get back into the game.’ And he just got even closer and closer and I just said, ‘That’s it, you’re sacked.’ I said, ‘I will never have you caddie again.’”
Allenby ended up carrying his own bag and caddie bib to his 10th hole of the day before a local school principal called out to the Australian and said he would be more than happy to help out for the final nine holes.
“To my surprise he said, ‘Come on,’ the local said.
Meddlemo told SEN radio: “Robert’s a pretty highly strung individual and he hasn’t been playing great of late. We had a discussion about a club, then of course I copped the wrath of that.
“Then unfortunately the personal insults started. I’ve been called a bad caddie … but when the personal insults come in and you’re being called a fat so-and-so … I got a little bit peeved by it and then the third time he said it I walked up to him and basically said ‘I dare you to say that to me again’.
“He didn’t say it again. There was never going to be any violence … I was just going to put the bag down, get my gear and leave. I basically said on the 13th hole ‘you don’t have to worry about it because I won’t be here tomorrow’ and he said ‘you’re right, because I definitely won’t have you back’.”
Other Aussies playing this week include Matt Jones (72), Cameron Percy (72) and Aaron Baddeley (73).
Jason Day Holes out for eagle at Canadian Open: Video
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