Ruffels wins Four Winds Invitational for third Epson Tour victory of 2023

Published 9:37 pm Saturday, August 12, 2023

SOUTH BEND — Epson Tour money list leader Gabriela Ruffels picked up her third victory of the 2023 year as she shot a 69 in the final round of the Four Winds Invitational at the South Bend Country Club Saturday.

Ruffels, who was born in Orlando, Florida, but moved to Melbourne, Australia as a child, finished 12-under par, which was three shots better than runners-up Katherine Smith and former Notre Dame standout Becca Huffer.

Smith also shot a 69 on Saturday, while Huffer finished with a round of 70.

Prior to winning the Four Winds Invitational, Ruffels took home titles the Garden City Classic in May and the Carlisle Arizona Women’s Golf Classic March.

“It was kind of a weird round today,” Ruffels said. “I started off two ahead, and then we got called off due to weather on the first green. I had like a four-foot birdie putt that I had to sit and think about. Then I made my first bogey of the week at number two, so I got a little unsettled there. Other than that, I played pretty steady golf coming in, so I was pretty happy.”

Normally, a three-time winner on the Epson Tour would earn a spot on the LPGA’s priority list for the remainder of the 2023 season. But that changed in 2018, while Ruffels will finish the season on the Epson Tour and start preparing for his debut on the LPGA Tour in 2024.

“I am not sure what my plan is yet; I haven’t even thought that far ahead,” Ruffels said. “I am going to take a week off next week and go back home to California. Then I have a start at the Canadian (CPKC Women’s Open) on the LPGA Tour, so that’s what’s next right now.”

Huffer redeemed herself on Saturday after missing the cut in 2022. Although she ended up with a solid finish, she never really was able to get on a roll in the final round.

“Today was a day that I just couldn’t get any putts to go in,”Huffer said. “It was solid, though, so I was happy with how I played, but Gabi just played really well today. It was super fun to be able to play in front of the Notre Dame fans again and have a good week while doing it.”

Siyun Liu did not win the Four Winds Invitational, but she did take home a nice consolation prize as she won the Potawatomi Cup. Liu, who won the first leg of the three-events, finished tied for 21st on Saturday to finish with 548 points. That was 46 points better than runner-up Natasha Andrea Oon. Ruffels finished third with 500 points and Huffer fourth with 473.5 points.

“It feels really amazing, especially because I wasn’t like 100 percent aware I had a chance to like win the thing because I knew I wasn’t going to play the Island Resort Championship because of a wedding,” she said. “It is definitely a pretty pleasant surprise for me, and it also helped that I played well today. I am grateful to be in this position and want to thank the Potawatomi Tribe for creating this for us and supporting women’s golf.”

Liu took home $5,000 for winning the cup.