Just days after Ryan Ruffels announced he had turned professional, there has been a bit of a stir surrounding a story that he won some money when he beat Phil Mickelson in a practice round just before Christmas.
In summary, it sort of goes like this. Matt Murnane wrote a piece on Ruffels in the Sydney Morning Herald that included a story about the 17-year-old winning $5000 off Mickelson in a practice round in the US.
“We get on the first tee, it’s pretty early in the morning and he says, ‘I don’t wake up this early to play for any less than $2500’,” Ruffels recalled of a friendly offer made to him by Mickelson.
The 42-time US PGA Tour winner gave Ruffels 2-1 odds; if Ruffels won, Mickelson would give him $5000, if he lost, Ruffels would have to pay up $2500 when he turned professional.
“I was a few down through nine but then I birdied six of my last seven to win by one shot and took his money, so that was pretty cool,” Ruffels said with a laugh.
Mickelson had previously been reported to have phoned Ruffels (early in 2015), hoping to lure him to his alma mater, Arizona State University where his brother is the golf coach. It’s also not hard to believe the story of the wager given Mickelson is known to be up for a bet on the golf course.
But the story has created a stir as amateur status rules strongly prohibit gambling. Soon after Ruffels took to social media to clear things up:
“Everyone, this is very inaccurate. There are no NCAA violations involved. At the time of the round I was already a professional, and had made it clear my intentions to not attend ASU or any college in Australia or the USA. The wager amount has also been exaggerated out of proportion. I value the relationship I have with Phil and his brother Tim and it’s one that I hope to have for many years. To have so many damaging inaccuracies in this is truly disappointing”
And then Ryan Ruffels’ manager, Bud Martin sent this to Golf Channel hoping to clear things up further:
“Upon reading the January 15th “Next Big Thing” article in the Sydney Morning Herald and absorbing the subsequent media fallout, we wanted to set the record straight as it pertains to Ryan’s December 21 practice round at Torrey Pines with Phil Mickelson and his brother Tim who is the head golf coach at Arizona State University. While it’s no secret both Phil and Tim would love to have had Ryan attend ASU and become a Sun Devil, the timing in the Sydney Morning Herald story was off, and in no way was either [Tim or Phil] recruiting him to do such at Torrey Pines. Ryan had months ago decided he was turning professional at the upcoming Farmers Insurance Open and that it would be announced yesterday in Melbourne, Australia, at a media conference at Victoria Golf Club Ryan’s home golf course. Both Phil and Tim were well aware this was the case. As for the actual round, Ryan jumped at the chance to get in a practice round for the Farmers with one of golf’s legends and a real pro from whom young players can gain valuable experience. The “friendly wager” and the “birdie barrages” reporting is a bit overdone and becoming a media fish story, but rest assured Ryan had a great time, appreciates Phil and Tim and their willingness to support him during an important step in his development and looks forward to his career as a professional which begins at Torrey Pines later this month.”
Anyone else thinking about a storm in a teacup?
Ruffels will tee up in his first professional tournament at the Farmers Insurance Open in two weeks time at Torrey Pines.