After still climbing to a high for the next week at the Atlanta Athletic Club – the only major she has yet to compete in – the 21-year-old and compatriot Su Oh are ranked after a fine five-under score seven.
Ruffels, who only made her professional debut on the LPGA Tour in February, is in top form.
It has achieved several placements in the top 20 and took 15th place at ANA Inspiration 2020 and 19th place at this year’s edition. She also finished 13th at the 2020 US Women’s Open.
The 2019 US Women’s Amateur Championship winner made eight birdies to go with two bogies.
Oh made six birdies with a lone bogey on the 7th to even out Ruffels’ score at Blythefield Country Club.
Both are chasing Nasa Hataoka, who holds part of the lead in her first event since losing the playoffs at the US Women’s Open.
“Usually everyone gets low scores on this course, so it’s really important for me to play four good rounds.” – Nasa Hataoka
The 22-year-old Japanese has shagged three of the last five holes to keep up with fellow morning starters Leona Maguire, Charley Hull and Lauren Stephenson at seven under 65.
“Usually everyone gets low scores on this course, so it’s really important for me to play four good rounds,” said Hataoka.
Two weeks ago, Hataoka lost to Yuka Saso on the third playoff hole at the Women’s Open at the Olympic Club in San Francisco.
The three-time LPGA Tour winner was without a bogey on Thursday, making four birdies on a five-hole course on the top nine and adding birdies on par-5s, par-16s and par-5s .
“Especially my iron game, I felt really good.” Hataoka said. “I’ve hit the pen many times, so I feel like my iron game helped my game a lot today.”
Hull played the final five holes in Five Under with long eagle putts on the 14th and 18th and a birdie on the 16th.
Maguire also had a bogey-free lap. The Irish player finished ninth in the LPGA Mediheal Championship at Lake Merced last week.
Stephenson played her opening nine – the second nine at Blythefield – in six under 30.
“The first nine felt like my ball had the hole like a magnet,” said Stephenson. “It was like I couldn’t miss it.
Ariya Jutanugarn and Min Lee shot 66, Anna Nordqvist joined Ruffels, Oh, Alison Lee, Sarah Schmelzel, Amy Olson, Sophia Popov, Chella Choi, Marina Alex, Xiyu Lin and Pajaree Anannarukarn for another shot.
2015 winner Lexi Thompson was in the large group that included Inbee Park, sisters Nelly and Jessica Korda, and Jennifer Kupcho when she was 68.
Australians Hannah Green and Katherine Kirk opened with two under 70s.
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