Phil Mickelson bit off a little more than he could chew when he made a practice round bet with 17 year old Ryan Ruffels, who was an amateur at the time.
Ruffels just turned professional this week and is regarded as the “next big thing” for golf in Australia. Ruffels told the Sydney Morning Herald the time Mickelson tried to persuade him to remain an amateur and go to his alma mater, Arizona State, in order to hone his craft.
Ruffels visited Mickelson in the United States and the two had a practice round, but it wasn’t any regular practice round. Ruffels said, “We get on the first tee, it’s pretty early in the morning and [Mickelson] says, ‘I don’t wake up this early to play for any less than $2,500.” To Mickelson, this was a “friendly offer.”
Yeah to Mickelson, who earned over $2 million last year and over $77 million in his career (not counting endorsements), $2,500 is probably like $20 to you and me. To a 17 year old, it’s a lot of money. Nevertheless, Ruffels was a team player and took the bet. Mickelson even gave 2-1 odds so Ruffels would receive $5,000 if he won and only had to pay Mickelson $2,500 if he lost. And to keep this legal in terms of Ruffels’ amateur status, this bet wouldn’t be paid until Ruffels became a pro.
Anyway, according to Ruffels, “I was a few down through nine but then I birdied six of my last seven to win by one shot and took his money, so that was pretty cool.”
So now that Ruffels has turned pro and signed an endorsement deal with Nike, Ruffels should be expecting that $5,000 now. As far as how he’ll go along with his PGA journey, Ruffels has an exemption to participate in seven tournaments this year and hope to remain eligible for the PGA next year. If that doesn’t happen, Ruffels will either go to the Web.com Tour or Q School and move up the ladder that way. Considering he’s already taken money from a golf legend, he’s already on the right track to success.