Maria Fassi and Gabi Ruffels accept special exemptions to 2021 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship
Maria Fassi of Mexico and Gabi Ruffels of Australia have each accepted a special exemption to compete in the 2021 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, June 22 – 27, at Atlanta Athletic Club in Johns Creek, Georgia.
These two exemptions, given annually, support two of the world’s top aspiring talents as they strive for greatness on a Major Championship stage at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.
Fassi, 23, will be making her second start since undergoing left knee surgery in late April, which caused her to miss six weeks of action. She was not able to play in the U.S. Women’s Open earlier this month, but returned, June 10-13, at the LPGA MEDIHEAL Championship. Fassi turned professional at the 2019 U.S. Women’s Open and finished T-12. Her best career effort was a T-9 finish in the 2020 Marathon LPGA Classic presented by Dana.
The 2019 NCAA Champion during her days at the University of Arkansas, Fassi was a decorated champion during her amateur days, winning the 2018 and ‘19 ANNIKA Award as the top player in women’s college golf. She also won consecutive Mexican Amateurs in 2015 and ‘16 and finished runner-up in the inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur in 2019.
“I could not stop beaming,” said Fassi about being notified she would receive a special exemption. “It’s such a cool (Championship), easily one of my favorites. I am really happy to play in it again this year. I played Atlanta Athletic Club with a friend back in April and the golf course was in great shape then, so I am pretty sure it will be even better come Championship Week. It’s a great test of golf. You have to hit it straight there… long helps, too.”
Since making the decision to forgo her final season of eligibility at the University of Southern California in January, Ruffels has played in five LPGA events and tallied three top-40 finishes, including a pair of top 20s at the ANA Inspiration (T-19) and Hugel-Air Premia LA Open (T-17).
The 21-year-old Ruffels is best known for winning the 2019 U.S. Women’s Amateur at Old Waverly Golf Club in West Point, Mississippi. She also won the 2019 North & South Amateur en route to a top-5 ranking in the World Amateur Golf Rankings. The daughter of two former tennis professionals (Anna-Maria Fernandez and Ray Ruffels), Ruffles enjoyed an accomplished junior career on the courts before switching to golf at the age of 15.
“I’m excited and honored to be playing with a special exemption in my first KPMG Women’s PGA Championship,” said Ruffels. “Thank you to KPMG, PGA of America and the LPGA for this incredible opportunity, and I look forward to the challenge of taking on Atlanta Athletic Club next week.”
The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship—a collaboration between the PGA of America, KPMG and the LPGA Tour—continues the rich tradition of the LPGA Championship. Broadcast in partnership with NBC, Golf Channel and Peacock, the Championship offers a purse ($4.5 Million, $675,000 to the Champion) among the highest in women’s golf. The event combines an annual major golf championship with the KPMG Women’s Leadership Summit and an ongoing charitable initiative (KPMG Future Leaders Program), all focused on the development, advancement and empowerment of women on and off the golf course.
Sei Young Kim, 28, will defend the 2020 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship she won at Aronimink Golf Club in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania, last October.