USC Senior Gabriela Ruffels Announces She is Turning Professional
Senior three-year starter Gabriela Ruffels, a 2019 All-American and 2019 U.S. Amateur Champion who posted a pair of 2020 LPGA top 15 finishes in majors en route to AmateurGolf.com's Player of the Year honor, has announced she is forgoing her remaining eligibility to pursue a professional career.
Ruffels, ranked No. 6 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings, is turning pro following her success as an amateur in LPGA events last year, including a tie for 13th at the 2020 U.S. Open and a tie for 15th at the ANA Inspiration. She also played in the 2020 British Open and tied for fifth in the Symetra Tour Championship.
"USC has meant the world to me and has been the best decision I've ever made," Ruffels said. "The past three years at USC have helped me improve not only as a golfer, but as a person and I am forever grateful to my coaches, teammates, support staff and the whole Trojan family for all their support.
"As far as my decision to turn professional, it was a super difficult decision to make 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."
Despite Ruffels' departure, the 2021 Trojans – who started their season Feb. 8-9 at the Lamkin San Diego Invitational and won by 24 strokes – still feature four All-Americans in seniors Allisen Corpuz, Amelia Garvey and Alyaa Abdulghany and junior Malia Nam. Corpuz, Garvey and Abdulghany are all ranked among the top 35 amateurs in the world.
The roster also features up-and-coming junior Katherine Muzi and sophomore transfer Alexa Melton, both former prep All-Americans, as well as three standout freshmen, Brianna Navarrosa, Christine Wang and Olivia Yun. Navarrosa and Wang were 2019 Junior Solheim Cup teammates and prep All-Americans as well.
Ruffels, who grew up in Australia, repeated as a U.S. Amateur finalist in 2020, falling on the second playoff hole following a 36-hole final. She also played in her second straight Palmer Cup where she helped Team International repeat as champions.
In three seasons at USC, she won two tournaments (the 2018 Windy City Collegiate Championship and the 2020 Rebel Beach Intercollegiate) among eight top 10 finishes and had eight rounds in the 60s. She wraps her USC career 16th in career stroke average (73.21).
Ruffels, who started her career at USC as a second-semester freshman in January of 2018, was part of 11 tournament wins as a Trojan, including the 2019 Pac-12 Championship, and helped lead Troy to the 2018 NCAA Championships match play semifinals and the 2019 NCAA quarterfinals.
"During Gabi's time here she was able to improve over 700 spots in the WAGR (World Amateur Golf Rankings), which is an amazing accomplishment," said third-year USC Head Coach Justin Silverstein, who caddied for Ruffels during both of her deep runs at the U.S. Amateur Championships as well as at this year's U.S. Open. "We are incredibly pleased with the development she has made in our system and can't wait to see how good she can get.
"Whenever we have a player in our program that has had as much success as Gabi, we know that turning pro is a strong possibility. We continue to pride ourselves on having an open-line of communication with our players and their families in order to help them make the best decision possible for their future.
"At this time, Gabi has been presented with opportunities that are simply too good to pass up and we are thrilled that she is going to get the chance to showcase her talents at the highest level. Our program has been fortunate to send many players to the pro ranks. Our team and the entire Trojan Family is excited to see Gabi join them."
Among the Trojans who played on the 2020 LPGA Tour were All-Americans Jennifer Song, Lizette Salas, Sophia Popov, Robynn Ree, Annie Park, Jennifer Chang, Tiffany Chan and Muni He. All retain 2021 LPGA status.
Ruffels is the eighth Trojan to turn pro before completing her eligibility since 2010, joining Chang, He, Ree, Karen Chung, Park, Kristen Park and Song.