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‘Motivated’ Gabriela Ruffels shoots 3-under 68 in third round to get in KPMG hunt

GettyImages-1259011334.jpg- KPMG PGA Championship- Gabriela Ruffels- third round- swing.jpg

Gabriela Ruffels, a former star tennis player turned two-time winner on the Epson Tour, posted a 3-under 68 in her third round at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.

Ruffels started the day at 2 over, sitting T-29. With five birdies and one double bogey, Ruffels now sits T-15 as the leaders finish up on Moving Day.

Full-field scores from the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship

Ruffels has a unique motivation boosting her play. Playing on a sponsor’s exemption was not quite the path she had intended. Ruffels was actually registered to play in an Epson Tour event this week.

“It was so cool getting an exemption,” Ruffels said. “My manager called me about a week and a half before the tournament started, and he said, ‘Change your flights from Harris, Michigan, (which was the Epson event this week), and go to Newark.’ I mean, it’s a great opportunity, and I’m so thankful to be here.”

Even though Ruffels was not expected to play in the KPMG for ranking reasons, there was another unforeseen circumstance as well.

Ruffels split time on the LPGA and developmental tour in ’21, before playing the Epson Tour primarily last year. Needing to earn her LPGA card through Q-Series, though, she simply forgot to sign up. Another year in the minors is now in store for Ruffels.

Instead of mentally spiraling from the setback, Ruffels is displaying her grit. Ruffels told Golfweek that she “used it as motivation.”

The motivation is evident by her stellar performance in the third round, climbing 14 spots on the leaderboard.

The Baltusrol Lower Course has been quite the feat for the ladies. Ruffels, obviously no stranger to a test, commented on the difficulty of play.

“Every hole is kind of a new story, a new challenge, and there’s no resting, on any putt, on any tee shot, on any approach,” she said. “Every shot is a challenge.”

It is no doubt Ruffels capitalized on that challenge in her third round. Her grit and determination are qualities that will be fun to watch as she tees it up in the final round.

“It’s good. I feel like I’m definitely playing well, playing solid,” Ruffels said. “I guess it’s just playing a lot of solid golf, so I’m happy, and we’ll see what we can do tomorrow.”