UPDATE: On Sunday morning, Ryan Ruffels’ manager, Bud Martin of Wasserman Media Group, released this statement to Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte.
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.”
Phil Mickelson’s best competition for money games hasn’t even reached the PGA Tour yet.
Ryan Ruffels, a newly minted professional golfer from Australia, took $5,000 off Mickelson in a match while he was visiting the United States as an amateur, according to an article from the Sydney Morning Herald. As the story goes, Mickelson gave the 17-year-old Ruffels 2-1 odds with one important clause: If Mickelson won, Ruffels would owe Mickelson $2,500 once he turned pro. If Ruffels would stun the 42-time Tour winning Goliath, Mickelson would pay up $5,000. Well, the latter is exactly what happened.
“I was a few down through nine, but then I birdied six of my last seven to win my one shot,” Ruffels recalls. “Took his money, so that was pretty cool.”
Not many, if any, 17-year-olds can say they’ve taken money off Phil Mickelson. Not many Tour pros can say it either. It’s likely Mickelson will get his chance at a rematch with Ruffels before long. Ruffels’ first exemption on Tour comes at the Farmers Insurance Open in two weeks at Torrey Pines, conveniently located in Mickelson’s hometown of San Diego. Good luck, kid.