Double gold medalist Bianca Pagdanganan (center) join teammates Lois Kaye Go (right) and Abby Arevalo during the awarding ceremony after completing a sweep of the individual and team competitions in women’s golf at Luisita Golf and Country Club in Tarlac.
Pinay Golfers regain throne
Dante Navarro (The Philippine Star) - December 9, 2019 - 12:00am

TARLAC, Philippines — Bianca Pagdanganan provided the spark and Lois Kaye Go the poise as the Philippines stymied Malaysia, 1.5-.5, in match play final to rule the team event and complete its sweep of the gold medals in women’s golf of the 30th Southeast Asian Games here yesterday.

Go carved out a tough all-square result with Ashley Lau, preserving Pagdanganan’s victory over Natasha Oon and capping the Pinays’ domination of the event since Princess Superal won the individual gold and led Katrina Briones and Clare Legaspi to the team championship in the 2013 Games in Myanmar.

The LPGA Tour-bound Pagdanganan thus spiked her last event as an amateur with a double-gold feat after clinching the individual gold via a three-stroke romp over Thai Kan Bunnabodee last Friday. She earlier posted a 3&2 triumph over Malaysia’s top player Oon although the Asian Games bronze medalist – and the entire team that included Abby Arevalo and the men’s squad – had to wait for Go to salvage a point in her tense-filled duel with Lau to clinch the team gold.

And the University of South Carolina mainstay delivered, matching Lau’s pars in the last three holes to force an all-square match and seal the victory, pumping her fist after holing out then hugging Pagdanganan to celebrate the sweep.

“We won as a team and everyone contributed,” said Pagdanganan, whose double-gold exploit will surely boost her confidence when she slugs it out with the world’s best in the LPGA starting January. “It was a great accomplishment for all of us.”

Truly, it was a big achievement for the Filipina shotmakers who came into the event confident but wary of the level of the opposition, particularly the Thailand side that prepared long and hard in a bid to sweep the four gold medals after winning three in the last SEAG in Kuala Lumpur.

But Pagdanganan, riding the momentum of her successful campaign in the grueling four-stage LPGA Q-School, foiled them in the individual competition, Go produced clutch shots in team play and Arevalo provided the big push in the final round (individual) to help net the host the top seeding in match play.

“It’s a very special win, especially with this group,” said Go, who annexed the lone bronze medal for Team Phl in Kuala Lumpur.

“It’s a nice feeling winning on home court,” said Arevalo.

Go, member of the Asian Games gold medal team that included bronze medalist Pagdanganan and gold medal winner Yuka Saso, actually cashed in on Lau’s bogeys and took two of the first four holes. But the Malaysian drew level on the seventh before the Cebuana ace won two of the next four holes while yielding one to go 1-up heading to No. 15, which she bogeyed, enabling Lau to stay in the match.

In stark contrast, Pagdanganan fell behind by two holes after Oon, who upended world No. 1 Atthaya Thitikul in their semis playoff to carry Malaysia past Thailand to the finals Saturday, birdied Nos. 4 and 5.

The former Arizona Wildcats standout quickly recovered and took the next two holes to draw level then won Nos. 12 and 13 to go 2-up and birdied the par-5 16th to wrap up the match.

The men’s team of Luis Castro, Aidric Chan, Carl Corpus and Sean Ramos snatched the bronze medal by nipping Indonesia in a playoff on Castro’s victory over Jonathan Wijono on the second sudden death hole.

It was the country’s first medal in men’s play since Mhark Fernando, Jhonnel Ababa, Tonlits Asistio and Jude Eustaquio bagged the bronze in the 2009 Games in Vientiane, Laos.

Thailand ended up with one gold as it edged Singapore, 2-1, in the men’s side of the match play final.

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