Home » Aussie wrap: Jason Day bags top-five heading into the PGA Championship, Gabi Ruffels’ career-best LPGA result – Australian Golf Digest

Aussie wrap: Jason Day bags top-five heading into the PGA Championship, Gabi Ruffels’ career-best LPGA result – Australian Golf Digest

With the PGA Championship around the corner, Jason Day has cemented his status as one to watch after a hot result at Quail Hollow during the PGA Tour’s $US20 million signature event in Charlotte.

Day, who won the PGA Championship in 2015 for his only major, closed with a 70 and tied for fourth at six under par (278) at the Wells Fargo, which wrapped up Sunday night US time (Monday morning Australian time). The Queenslander may have finished 11 shots behind the winner, Rory McIlroy (65, 17 under), but Day’s result was his fourth top 10 of the year on the PGA Tour. And in Day’s defence, Xander Schauffele finished second but was five behind McIlroy. That gap could have been seven if McIlroy hadn’t airmailed the 18th green with a wedge into the water for a double-bogey 6.

In other words, McIlroy obliterated everyone.

The question is, can the Northern Irishman take that form into the PGA Championship next week, 10 years after Valhalla became the site of McIlroy’s fourth and most recent major victory? McIlroy, Schauffele, Day will head with the rest of golf’s elite to Louisville, Kentucky for the second men’s major of the year. Day was tied 15th in the pro-only major that year as McIlroy triumphed in near darkness. But in the decade since, Day, now 36, has enjoyed an ascension to world No.1 for a year-long stint and won 13 times on the PGA Tour including a lone major.

This year, after a month of lacklustre results, Day said the T4 at Quail Hollow marked a breakthrough in his work-in-progress swing.

“I’ve had a run over the last month and a half, two months where it’s just been kind of poor, hitting, I’ve been losing a ton of strokes to the field approach to green, not necessarily on the driver, for instance,” Day said. “It’s weird, it’s kind of strange to drive it decently well and to hit it poor coming into the greens. But I feel like some of the stuff we’re [swing coach Chris Como] working on, I’ll see like little snippets of like really good stuff. The hardest thing to do in golf is to stay patient.”

He was the top Australian on the leaderboard at the elite, 68-player Wells Fargo, while Adam Scott was next best in a share of 29th at two over, 19 shots back of McIlroy. Sydney native Cameron Davis was two shots worse at four over, tied 38th.

Day created plenty of traction on social media for his constant flare on course with new clothing sponsor, Malbon. While some ridiculed the golfer who wore a sweater banned by Augusta National during the Masters, your correspondent thought he looked cool in a linen outfit that featured baggy pants and a green and off white buttoned shirt. Until McIlroy won the tournament, Day’s outfits had been the most exciting development in professional golf this year.

Meanwhile on the LPGA Tour, Australian Gabi Ruffels earned her career-best result on the LPGA Tour in only the first few months of her rookie season. Ruffels was third at the LPGA Founders Cup, an elite tournament held at the AW Tillinghast-designed Upper Montclair Country Club in New Jersey, a tournament that pays homage to the founding women of the LPGA Tour. Although Ruffels was nine under par and 15 shots back of the winner, Rose Zhang, her solo third eclipsed her share of third at the recent Fir Hills Seri Pak Championship for her best result on tour.

“Finishing third is my best result yet, but it was an up and down week,” Ruffels said. “[Upper Montclair] is like that, other than [Zhang and runner up Madelene Sagstrom] everyone else was [worse than] 10 under. There were lot of birdies but bogeys as well and I had to hang tough, but I’m proud I did that. I feel like I’m making strides with my swing and just mentally on a golf course like this, just trying to hang tough and seeing where that puts you.”

Despite the result, Ruffels, who was ranked world No.83 before the third placing, said the Olympics were not on her mind. World No.7 Hannah Green and N0.9 Minjee Lee will represent the two-player women’s team for Australia. The only way Ruffels could book a spot on the team is to climb within the world’s top 15 within the deadline, which is in mid-June. A country can send as many as four players tot he Olympics if they are ranked within the top 15, but if they don’t each country sends its two best-ranked golfers. Ruffels would have to win and add several hot results on the LPGA in the next month.

“It would mean the world, but it’s a long shot. Australia is a pretty strong country and it’s cool to see. I mean, I’ve looked up to those girls. [Green and Lee]. Hopefully one day [I’ll make the Olympics], if not this year, hopefully another year.”

Lee was next best of the Australians, tied seventh, while Green and Sydney’s Steph Kyriacou were tied 18th. Sarah Kemp tied for 35th while Grace Kim was tied 46th.