This story has been corrected. Read below
Phil Mickelson loves to take money from his fellow pros in practice-round money games, but is it a fair fight when the opponent is a 17-year-old from Australia?
Aussie Ryan Ruffels had been debating joining the professional ranks or going to college in the U.S. And Mickelson, who had previously been an assistant coach to his brother, Tim, at Arizona State, had in the past tried to convince the Aussie to play for the Sun Devils.
On Saturday afternoon, Ruffels' took to Instagram to say the story was "inaccurate," and went into the comments section of a Golf Channel posting to say the amount of the wager has been "exaggerated."
Ruffels' comment read:
"Everyone, this is very inaccurate. There are no NCAA violations involved. At the time of the round I was already a professional, and had made it clear my intentions to not attend ASU or any college in Australia or the USA. The wager amount has also been exaggerated out of proportion. I value the relationship I have with Phil and his brother Tim and it's one that I hope to have for many years. To have so many damaging inaccuracies in this is truly disappointing"
Ruffels, who turned pro recently, recalled the encounter to the Australian newspaper.
"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,' " Ruffels said.
Mickelson said he would pay double if he lost.
"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," Ruffels said.
— Victoria Golf Club (@VicGolfClub) January 14, 2016
Don't think Ruffels was the naïve kid getting taken by one of golf's global superstars. At the 2015 Canadian Open, the then-amateur shot an opening-round 66 with five birdies and an eagle to finish the day 6 under. He made the weekend in Canada, but failed to make the 54-hole cut. So he's clearly got game.
As it turns out, he took Mickelson's money, but not his advice, and instead turned pro. Ruffels' first two PGA Tour starts on special exemptions are expected to be at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines at the end of January, and the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am two weeks later.
A Jan. 16 ESPN.com story incorrectly noted the timeline of when a match between Phil Mickelson and Ryan Ruffels occurred. Mickelson had previously been an assistant coach at Arizona State and had in the past tried to convince Ruffels to play for the Sun Devils.