• Ruffels leads Australians at Chevron Championship with a birthday special

Australia’s newest member of the world top 100, Gabi Ruffels, leads her country’s nine-player contingent after the first round of the opening women’s golf major championship of 2024, the Chevron Championship.

Playing on her 24th birthday, Ruffels shot a 3-under-par 69 at The Woodlands in Texas to be in a share of fifth position, three shots behind the leader, American Lauren Coughlin.

Next in line amongst the Australians are Sarah Kemp (70), Steph Kyriacou and Karis Davidson (72) and Robyn Choi (73).

Now ranked 84th in the world after being outside the top 200 a year ago, Ruffels has made a habit of featuring in leaderboards in majors with six top-25s from nine starts – three of those coming at this event when it was based at Mission Hills in California.

“This tournament has always been really special to me. I have had great memories from this tournament and hopefully I can have a good one this week too,” Ruffels said.

“It’s my birthday today so I was happy to have a good round.

“It felt super solid.”

Starting her day on the 10th in more difficult conditions than the morning field faced, the Victorian quickly moved to 3-under with birdies on three of her first six holes before handing back shots with back-to-back bogeys on 16 and 17.

After another birdie on the 18th, Ruffels’ second nine was less of a rollercoaster ride with a bogey on the third offset by birdies on the sixth and ninth.

“You just know it’s a major and pars out here are good. Scores are not going to be super low,” she said.

“I just had to stay patient.”

Trying to make her first cut at this event since 2012, Kemp shares 10th position after her solid 2-under start, which featured four birdies and two bogeys.

Further down the field is a group of Australians with some ground to make up to qualify for the weekend play including Minjee Lee (74), Grace Kim (76), Hannah Green (77) and majors debutant Hira Naveed (78).

While Coughlin leads after a 66, the tournament favourite remains Nelly Korda, the American chasing a remarkable fifth consecutive LPGA Tour victory.

She started with a 4-under 68 to be in a three-way share of second.

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