The Arizona Republic

Ruffels wins Carlisle Arizona Classic in Mesa

- —Staff reports

Gabriela Ruffels held onto her thirdround lead and secured her first Epson Tour victory by winning the Carlisle Arizona Women’s Golf Classic on Sunday by two strokes over Kathleen Scavo at Longbow Golf Club in Mesa.

“It feels so good (to win). I’ve wanted this all week, especially after the first round when I kind of got into the tournament,” said Ruffels, 22, from Australia, who shot a 4-under 68 on Sunday and finished with an 18-under 270. “I just had to stay patient all day, and I can finally relax knowing that I won. It’s a really cool feeling.”

Ruffels carded only one bogey throughout the week, scoring par or better on 71 of the 72 holes.

Missing out on her 2023 LPGA Tour card by five spots, Ruffels was eager to get back on the course and prove herself. The University of Southern California grad looks forward to developing her game on the Epson Tour, the LPGA's official qualifying circuit, and giving herself a good shot at moving up in 2024.

“I came in 15th on the Epson Tour last year and still felt like I had a lot to improve on,” said Ruffels. “I feel like this year, if I can prove myself out here, then hopefully next year, if I get onto the LPGA Tour, I’ll be super ready. Definitely having this win, any win but especially this one, is going to boost my confidence for the rest of the year.”

Phoenix Rising FC still winless after loss in San Diego

Phoenix Rising FC dropped to 0-1-1 on the new season after losing 3-0 at San Diego Loyal SC on Sunday.

The first half nearly ended scoreless until a turnover in the back allowed San Diego to take a 1-0 lead just before halftime. Loyal SC’s Charlie Adams collected the errant pass and quickly got the ball to striker Evan Conway, who dodged a tackle at the top of the area and beat Phoenix keeper Rocco Rios Novo low to the near post in the 44th minute.

In the first two minutes of the second half, Rising FC had a corner kick opportunit­y but that was lost on an ensuing foul. Phoenix followed up with several scoring chances about 20 minutes later but was denied, and then San Diego put the match away with goals by Ronaldo Damus (74th minute) and Blake Bodliy (90rh).

Phoenix is off until its home opener

April 1, when the same two teams will meet in the debut USL match of Rising FC's new stadium on 38th and Washington Streets.

Mercury announce 2 preseason games

The Mercury will play two preseason games ahead of the 2023 regular schedule. Phoenix will play at the Seattle Storm on May 9, then host the Los Angeles Sparks at Footprint Center on May 12. Both games are 7 p.m. starts.

The WNBA Draft is scheduled for April 10, ahead of the April 30 start date for training camp. The Mercury currently have 14 players on the roster.

The home opener is set against the Chicago Sky on May 21 at 1 p.m.

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