Blazing finish nets Bianca Pagdanganan LPGA Q-Series berth
Bianca Pagdanganan
Blazing finish nets Bianca Pagdanganan LPGA Q-Series berth
Dante Navarro ( - October 18, 2019 - 11:18am

MANILA, Philippines – Bianca Pagdanganan underscored her readiness to spearhead the country’s gold medal drive in next month’s Southeast Asian Games, putting in a kind of finish that wins big-time tournaments in the LPGA Qualifying Stage II in Venice, Florida Thursday.

She didn’t clinch the low medalist honors the way she did in Stage I in Rancho Mirage in California last August but her stirring eagle-spiked eight-under 64 proved enough to net her a berth in the elite Q-Series cast for cracks at coveted LPGA cards next year.

In danger of missing the 30-plus ties cut after a disastrous 74 at the Panther layout of Plantation Golf and Country Club Wednesday that dropped her to joint 43rd, the Asian Games bronze medalist racked up three birdies in the first seven holes of the Bobcat course to move up the rankings. Sustaining her momentum, Pagdanganan added two more birdies linking both nines then eagled the par-5 13th to go seven-under for the day and eight-under overall.

Another birdie on the par-3 15th put her in the Top 10 and though she dropped a stroke on the par-5 16th, the talented Gonzaga U product birdied the next to complete a pair of 32s and finished joint eighth at 279.

“I have no words, just told myself after the third round that I needed a good round,” said Pagdanganan, who won the Philippine Ladies Open in record fashion at Wack Wack in 2017. “My coach and my dad were telling me that four-under or better would be safe. I didn’t try to force anything and stuck to my game plan.

“Just felt really good – ball striking was so much better than what it was the previous days. But I didn’t expect to shoot this low. I’m still in shock,” said Pagdanganan, who will lead the country's title bid in the SEA Games with Lois Kaye Go and Abby Arevalo.

But for many who had tracked her performance the last few years, her big final round surge didn’t come as a big surprise.

Now comes the hardest, toughest part.

Pagdanganan, one of the only 14 players who started out in Stage I and made it to the final phase, will slug it out with the best, all 107 of them, in the grueling Q-Series, a two 72-hole tournament set October 23-November 2 in Pinehurst, North Carolina.

The top 45 plus ties will receive LPGA Membership in Category 14 of the Priority List.

But while Pagdanganan made the grade, teammate and Asian Games gold medalist Yuka Saso failed in her comeback bid, her closing 69 could only rally her to joint 61st at 287, three strokes short of the cutoff score.

Down at 89th after 54 holes, Saso matched Pagdanganan’s hot start at Panther with three birdies in the first five holes but she stumbled with a bogey on No. 8. She recovered the stroke on the par-5 ninth but bogeyed the next. She missed a couple of birdie chances and hit another birdie on the 16th but ran out of holes.

She settled for a Symetra Tour, the farm league of the LPGA, card in 2020.

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