Defending champ Ruffels reaches quarterfinals of Women’s Am

ROCKVILLE, Md. (AP) — Gabriela Ruffels rallied from a slow start in two more matches Friday, won them both and advanced to the quarterfinals in her bid to win back-to-back in the U.S. Women’s Amateur.

Ruffels was trailing U.S. Girls Junior champion Lei Ye going to the ninth tee and turned the match in her favor, winning 2 up. She was behind again in the afternoon to Teresa Toscano Borrero and pulled away for a 4-and-2 victory.

In three matches, the 20-year-old Australian has won 14 holes and lost one from holes No. 9 through No. 16 at Woodmont Country Club.

“I’ve been down in all of my matches, but No. 9 has been a big turning point for me,” Ruffels said. “If I can be close heading to the back nine, then I feel like I have an advantage.”

She is trying to become the first player since Danielle Kang (2010-11) to win the U.S. Amateur in consecutive years. Before that, the last player to successfully defend was Kelli Kuehne in 1995-96.

Ruffels won’t have to contend with the No. 1 seed. Rachel Heck, the 18-year-old from Tennessee, won her second-round match before Rose Zhang beat her, 2 up, in the round of 16.

It marks the 29th consecutive year the No. 1 seed — the medalist in qualifying — failed to win.

The drama came from Emilia Migliaccio beating Megan Schofill in 22 holes, the longest match of the week. Schofill looked like a winner when she nearly holed her second shot on the 18th feet from 150 yards, leaving a tap-in birdie. Migliaccio then made her 15-footer to force extra holes.

Migliaccio missed a 4-foot putt for the win on the third extra hole, and put away Schofill with a 15-foot birdie on the next.

With Heck eliminated, the highest seed remaining is Valery Plata, the No. 2 seed and a Michigan State junior. She has not trailed in any of her matches, posting victories over Zoe Campos and Ty Akabane to earn her place in the quarterfinals.

The quarterfinals and semifinals are Saturday, followed by the 36-hole championship match Sunday.

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