Bianca Pagdanganan posted her best finish in six starts in the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Tour when she placed third in the LPGA Drive On Championship in Greensboro, Georgia on Sunday.
The 22-year-old rookie made 16 consecutive pars before closing with back-to-back birdies for two-under par 70 and 14-under overall, two shots behind first-time winner Ally McDonald of the United States.
It marked the second straight Top 10 finish for the Filipina who rose to become the tour’s longest hitter.
She shared ninth place in the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship two weeks ago in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania.
Starting the day one shot behind McDonald, Pagdanganan sustained her excellent tee-to-green play, but could not get her birdie putts to drop until the last two holes.
She finally drained a 15-footer on 17 and a two-footer on the par-5 18 following a brilliant escape from the greenside bunker.
“My round was boring, like very boring,” Pagdanganan said. “I couldn’t get anything to drop. It’s important to stay patient but at the same time, it was frustrating.”
Pagdanganan, however, remains upbeat.
“I’m still happy with how I played and where my game is going,” she said.
“I haven’t struck the ball this well in a while, so it definitely good and I’m glad with how I gave myself a lot of opportunities this week.”
McDonald rode on four birdies in the first 12 holes to shoot a 69, edging world No. 5 Danielle Kang by one shot.
Kang birdied the final hole for 68.
American Mina Harigae sizzled with a 67 while Carlota Ciganda of Spain had a 69 to share fourth place on 13-under.
Pagdanganan wore the national colors in her first stint in the championship flight, fueling national pride back home where many stayed glued on television until the wee hours of the morning.
She came up short, but earned admiration for not dropping a shot under grinding pressure.
As a consolation, Pagdanganan earned $83,557 (about P4.2 million), bringing her career earnings to $186,266 (P9.3 million).
Meanwhile, McDonald celebrated her 28th birthday Sunday by winning her first LPGA title.
The world No. 62 finished 72 holes at Reynolds Lake Oconee on 16-under 272 for an extra-special birthday gift.
“It’s definitely towards the top that’s for sure,” McDonald said.
McDonald’s best prior LPGA finish was third at last year’s Shoprite Classic.
“I’ve never doubted my ability but it’s really hard to win out here,” said McDonald, her voice breaking with emotion.
“I hung in there and I was really happy to get a win.”
Fifth-ranked Kang trimmed her lead from four strokes to a single shot on the back nine but settled for second after shooting 68 to finish on 273.
“It shook me up pretty bad,” McDonald said.
“I had to gather myself up and get my heart rate under control.”
“I knew Danielle was going to put the pedal to the metal. I told myself to calm down and do what I’ve been doing, follow my game plan and control what I can.
“I was happy to hang in there and pull it out — just the resilience I have.”
Kang originally was to have been seeking a third consecutive LPGA crown in Shanghai this week befire Covid-19 wiped out the event, leading to the creation of this week’s tournament.
McDonald birdied the par-3 fourth and made the turn with a two-stroke lead over Pagdanganan and Kang.
She then sank a 12-foot birdie putt at the 10th to launch a run of three consecutive birdies that left her on 17-under with a four-stroke edge.
Kang rolled in a 10-footer for birdie at the par-4 13th while McDonald missed a five-footer for par, her lead halved with five holes remaining.
Kang curled in a tricky downhill 12-foot birdie putt at the par-3 14th, reaching 15-under to pull within one with her third birdie in four holes.
At 15, the course’s toughest hole for the week, Kang went over the green, pitched to five feet but missed her par putt and fell two back with three to play.
McDonald birdied the par-3 16th but missed a seven-foot par putt at the par-3 17th to keep the lead at two heading for the par-5 18th.
McDonald put her approach onto the green at the last and Kang lofted her eagle attempt so it barely missed the edge of the cup. She made birdie but McDonald two-putted for par and the win.
“I tried,” Kang said.
Date: October 27, 2020 | By: Agence France Presse | Newspaper: Tribune | Source: https://tribune.net.ph/index.php/2020/10/27/well-done-bianca/?fbclid=IwAR32whioBCdgQrfvxhOg_sSrgV5qKnwIDd6s74d_YZZMsKToRdoEbUK6BDY