A week after missing a playoff by a shot, Gabi Ruffels posts her LPGA-low round at inaugural Ford Championship

GILBERT, Ariz. — She missed out on a playoff five days ago by a stroke. She posted her career-low round on the LPGA on Thursday.

Gabi Ruffels’ game is rounding into form in her 26th start in the big leagues.

Ruffels shot an 8-under 64 at Seville Golf and Country Club, host venue for the inaugural Ford Championship, and was tied for the lead for most of the day in the first round on a sunny day in the Phoenix suburbs. She was in a three-way tie for the lead till some in the afternoon wave went low, making it a five-way tie, but then Pajaree Anannarukarn, who finished on No. 9 buy making four-footer for birdie and the day’s lone 63.

Her bogey-free round featured a first-round high of nine birdies, including fives straight on Nos. 5 through 9 to cap her round. She hit 12 of 14 fairways and 16 of 18 greens.

As for Ruffels, she rebounded nicely from her lone bogey on No. 7 with three straight birdies on Nos. 8 through 10. Her eagle came on the par-5 fifth hole.

“I wish I knew, because I would want to take it every week with me,” the Aussie said when asked about how she’s maintaining momentum. “Just having that confidence knowing that I played well last week and everything in my game felt really well and then just doing the same things, not thinking too much about it and riding with the confidence.”

PHOTOS: Ford Championship

The 2019 U.S. Amateur champ shot a 65 last Saturday near Los Angeles but a closing 70 kept her one shot shy of a playoff with Nelly Korda and Ryann O’Toole. Korda, in the field this week and back in the No. 1 spot in the world rankings, won the event on the first playoff hole.

The West Coast swing seems to be suiting Ruffels just fine this season.

“My parents live in Palm Springs and I spend a lot of time there. It’s very similar climate-wise and the feel, that dry weather,” she said. “I’ve played probably a lot of my golf in the past five or six years in Palm Springs, so, yeah, I love Phoenix. Kind of the same feel and feels like home I guess.”

Ruffels has another professional win in Arizona. It came 11 months ago on the Epson Tour at Longbow Golf Club in neighboring Mesa.

Azahara Munoz of Spain, who played collegiately at nearby Arizona State, was the first in with a 64. She also eagled the fifth hole.

“It’s been a while,” she said of her low round. “I’ve had a few 5, 6 under, but not 8 under, which is really, really nice. Yeah, makes me happy to know that I can still do it.”

Germany’s Isi Gabsa later made it a three-way tie for the lead when she posted 64, including four straight birdies on Nos.14-18.

The afternoon wave produced two more 64s from another former Sun Devil, Carlota Ciganda, as well as world No. 2 Lilia Vu, who also had a nine-birdie, bogey-free round.

There are two golfers tied for seventh at 7 under – Celine Boutier and Hyo Joo Kim – and then swath of 11 golfers tied for ninth at 6 under. Add ’em up and that’s 19 golfers within two shots of the lead after 18 holes.

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek