Ruffels takes third-round lead at Pinnacle Bank Championship presented by Aetna
August 01, 2020
By Sean Wildhack, PGATOUR.COM
- August 01, 2020
Ryan Ruffels interview after Round 3 of the Pinnacle Bank
OMAHA, Nebraska – Ryan Ruffels used a bogey-free, 6-under 65 on Saturday to claim the third-round lead at the Pinnacle Bank Championship presented by Aetna at 12-under 201. Stephen Franken sits alone in second two strokes off the pace at 10-under 203.
Ruffels began the day in a tie for fourth but used a hot start on Saturday to ascend the leaderboard. After a birdie on the par-4 first, Ruffels carded his second eagle of the week at the par-5 fourth to move to 9-under. The 22-year-old added birdies on Nos. 7 and 9 to reach 5-under on the round and 11-under for the tournament.
On the back nine, Ruffels tallied one birdie and eight pars to reach 12-under for the week and earn a two-stroke lead heading into Sunday.
“It was solid, it played a little easier today and I was able to take advantage,” Ruffels said. “I’ve been putting it quite nice and my iron play has been pretty good. The last couple of days, the driving hasn’t been as good as I would’ve liked. I’m playing the course smart and doing what I need to do.”
Ruffels earned Korn Ferry Tour status after a T21 finish at the Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying Tournament’s Final Stage last December. In his rookie season, the Australian has made nine cuts in 12 starts and entered the week ranked 54th in The 25. Despite having three top-25s on the season, Ruffels is still in search of a strong Sunday finish, and now has his first Korn Ferry Tour title in his sights.
“Yeah, it’s going to be fun,” he said of Sunday’s final round. “It’ll be a great challenge and I’m really looking forward to it. It’s what we play for. I’m really excited to see what I can do under the pump.”
Franken, who held a share of the first-round lead, tallied three birdies against two bogeys on his first 11 holes on Saturday. After pars on Nos. 12-14, the 23-year-old caught fire with an eagle-birdie-birdie stretch on Nos. 15, 16 and 17.
After a difficult up-and-down on the par-4 18th, Franken reached 10-under for the week and moved into solo-second heading into the final round.
Franken, also in his rookie season on Tour, has made seven cuts in 12 starts this season. He earned his only top-25 of the season with a T17 result at the TPC Colorado Championship at Heron Lakes. Entering this week, the North Carolina State University product ranked 127th on the points list.
“I haven’t been in contention in a while. At Q-School, I was kind of there,” Franken said. “I’m excited being in contention. I’m just going to go out and have fun and enjoy it. I know that’s probably the best way to do it, and I’m just excited for the opportunity.”
Michael Miller, Rico Hoey and Cameron Young sit in a tie for third at 9-under 204.
Final-round tee times will run from approximately 6:49 a.m. – 12:25 p.m. with players teeing off No. 1.