Bianca Pagdanganan
Photo courtesy of Dante Navarro
Eagle-spiked 67 moves Bianca to joint 2nd
Dante Navarro ( - August 24, 2019 - 1:31pm

MANILA, Philippines — Bianca Pagdanganan served notice of her bid to go big-time, or spearhead the Philippines in the coming SEA Games, at least, as she stormed to joint second with an eagle-spiked five-under 67 in Day 2 of the LPGA and Symetra Tour Qualifying Tournament Stage I in various courses in Rancho Mirage, California Friday.

The Asian Games bronze medalist, along with American Gabby Lemieux, Mexican Ana Ruiz Laphond and erstwhile solo leader Min A Yoon of Korea, actually stood on top of the heap with 137 totals until Riley Rennell of the US came in late to shoot a 69 and snare the lead at 136.

Still, Pagdanganan’s brilliant two-day effort, including an opening 70 at Faldo course Thursday, has virtually assured her of a spot in the last two rounds of the first part of the grueling elims leading to a dream LPGA stint next year.

A former Philippine Ladies Amateur Open champion, Pagdanganan birdied four of the first 11 holes at Dinah Shore and bucked a bogey on No. 12 with a closing eagle on the par-5 18th for a 33-34 card.

Pagdanganan has committed to lead the country’s campaign in the SEA Games set Dec. 4-8 at Luisita together with Asiad gold medal teammate Lois Kaye Go but her performance in the series of LPGA elims could force the University of Arizona standout to reconsider her decision.

If she makes it past Stage II, the Q-Series will be held Oct. 21-Nov. 2 in North Carolina, a demanding two-week tournament that will determine each player’s LPGA playing status in 2020 when the national team should be in the thick of preparations for the biennial games.

A total of 351 aspirants are fighting for slots in the final found of the first elims stage with the cut (to be determined later) to be made after the third round Saturday. Those who will qualify but do not advance in Stage II set in October will receive 2020 Symetra Tour status.

Daniella Uy, who matched Pagdanganan’s opening 70 at the Palmer layout, faltered with a 74 at Shadow Ridge and dropped to joint 51st at 144. The Ladies Philippine Golf Tour campaigner gunned down four birdies but fumbled with two bogeys and the same number of double bogeys, including on No. 18 that marred her pair of 37s.

But despite her stumble, the former Junior World champion is expected to move into the final round and stay in the hunt for a spot in Stage II set Oct. 12-17 at Plantation Golf and Country Club in Venice, Florida where they will join those who gained exemptions in Stage I, including Yuka Saso.

The reigning Asian Games gold medalist advanced by virtue of her Top 20 standing in the Women’s Amateur Golf Ranking.

The two other Filipina bidders, however, will need to shoot low in the third round to keep their slim hopes alive as Pauline del Rosario failed to recover from a 76 at Palmer with a 77 at Shadow Ridge for joint 237th at 153 and Chanelle Avaricio limped with a 79 at Palmer after a 75 at Dinah Shore for a share of 254th at 154.

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