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Gabriela Ruffels, 2019 U.S. Women's Amateur Champ

Golfer Gabi Ruffels

Gabriela Ruffels won the 2019 U.S. Women's Amateur Championship by defeating Albane Valenzuela in one of the most closely contested finals in recent memory. The final score was 1-up in favor of Australian Ruffels, but the two golfers were never separated by more than one hole after starting the final 18 all square. A birdie on the 35th hole gave Ruffels a 1-up lead, and she won the match and the tournament with a halve on the final hole.

It was the second loss in the championship match for Valenzuela, who plays college golf at Stanford. It was the first trip to the finals (her first appearance at all in the tournament) for Ruffels, who plays NCAA golf at Southern Cal. The 19-year-old Ruffels entered the tournament ranked No. 52 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings, while Valenzuela was No. 5.

Ruffels comes from a sports family. Her parents were both pro tennis players (in fact her dad was Billie Jean King's mixed doubles partner at some Grand Slam tournaments, including runner-up finishes at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in 1978). Gabi's brother Ryan is a professional golfer currently playing on the PGA Tour Latinoamérica.

Ruffels got to the championship match with a hard-fought victory over world No. 2 (and Valenzuela's Stanford teammate) Andrea Lee.