Ruffles back on the right track

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Image: Enrique Berardi, Latino-American tour

It wasn't that long ago that Ryan Ruffels wasn't in a great place.

Not much went well with his game and in November he had just missed the cutbacks at the Argentinian Open in Buenos Aires – and with it the chance to keep his Latinoamerica Tour card.

The coldest truth was that he didn't even get close to the weekend (75-76). It was his fifth missed cut in his previous six PGA Tour Latinoamerica starts and his only cut made during that play was a 38th draw in the Neuquen Argentina Classic.

The young Australian had to make a decision.

Although it wasn't where he wanted to go, Ruffels decided to play in the Malinalco Classic in Mexico, the final of the Dev Series. The Dev Series is a group of tournaments associated with PGA Tour Latinoamerica and gives upcoming players a place to play their way to the next season of the tour.

Ruffels traveled to Malinalco without much expectations, opened 69-70 and was bound for the 14th heading to the weekend.

But during his last 36 holes, the fortune changed from the Victorian.

He fired a four-under-68 in the third round and corrected that with two strokes on the last day to finish third alone, thereby earning status back from the Latinoamerica Tour for 2019.

Fast-forward to Panama this week during the season-opening Buenaventura Classic and it looks much lighter for the 20-year-old.

Only a second round 75 hurt his chances, but his opening 66 and the closing 68-71 were enough to win a draw for second place with the American Mitchell Meissner and Mito Pereira in Chile, five shots behind the winner Jared Wolfe

The two-time Australian junior champion was philosophical about his final-round game at Buenaventura Golf Club.

"I chipped incredibly for the first three days. If I had fired properly today, I probably could have scared him a little (but Wolfe) was too good, he played great," Ruffels said.

"It's been a huge advance since the end of last year, when not much went well for me. I didn't quite have it.

"I worked very hard during the off-season, so it's really nice to see a few things start running early in the season."

Ruffels returned to Melbourne to work with the coach he had since he was eleven years old, Denis McDade, and the teacher-teacher relationship paid off during the last iteration together.

"I worked hard. I played reasonably well. We have returned to Australia in recent weeks. We have worked hard to do the right things," Ruffels said.

"I really started to go around the corner and hit the ball very well."

Ruffels returns to Argentina with renewed confidence in a much better headspace for the next Tour event, the Molino CaƱuelas championship, while working on a top five moneylist finish and the resulting Web.com Tour status before 2020.

New South Welshman Harrison Endycott is also handy early in the season after finishing in a 12th place share after closing 68 in Panama.

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