Bianca Pagdanganan's coach cool over ward's swinging to early golf fame
Bianca Pagdanganan of the Philippines walks the 17th hole fairway during round three of the 2020 LPGA Drive On Championship - Reynolds Lake Oconee on October 24, 2020 in Greensboro, Georgia.
Mike Comer/Getty Images/AFP
Bianca Pagdanganan's coach cool over ward's swinging to early golf fame
Dante Navarro (Philstar.com) - October 28, 2020 - 2:32pm

MANILA, Philippines –  As a former Junior World champ three times over, a pro and a coach, Carito Villaroman sure knows a talent when he sees it.

In Bianca Pagdanganan, however, he didn’t only spot a power but also a future star.

And she started to validate that claim this early in her pro career.

Never mind if she had failed to complete what could’ve been a breakthrough in the Drive On Championship in Georgia last Sunday but her third place finish, together with her previous joint ninth effort in a major, the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, were enough to make her an instant LPGA rookie sensation.

Sure, it was her awesome power that started to reverberate to every corner of the golfing world and put her in the middle of conversation at least the past two weeks with some quarters comparing her to Bryson de Chambeau and Tiger Woods with her astounding 300-yard norm. Many have tagged her as the “future of women’s golf” and still others described her as “special.”

But more than her strength, Villaroman said his ward is a skilled competitor now ready to conquer the world.

“We’re just waiting for her game to show,” said Villaroman, who handled Pagdanganan since she was 11, four years after she got hook to the game out of curiosity about his dad Sam’s sport.

“After school, she would drop by the (Camp Aguinaldo) range and practice till so late in the day,” recalled Villaroman. “That time, I already saw her interest and determination (in the game).”

Now in the big league, Villaroman said he believes the ICTSI-backed Pagdanganan has got what it takes not just to be a strong player but be among the greats someday.

“She’s a fierce competitor, she works hard on her game, she loves it and she has that never give-up attitude,” said Villaroman of her ward’s attributes.

What separates her from the rest (in the LPGA), according to him, is that “she hits her drives long and straight.”

But to nail that first win, Villaroman has stressed the need for Pagdanganan to polish her putting stroke.

“Mentally, I think, she’s doing everything right. But she needs to make more putts (in order to win),” added Villaroman, whose third feat in the 1986 Junior World, long considered as the breeding ground of golf talents, saw him humble the likes of Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els and Shigeki Maruyama with a mind-boggling 15-under par total that broke all records. That exploit remained unmatched to this day despite the advances in golf and ball technology.

Though she made the cut in her first four regular LPGA events, it was not until she churned out that Top 10 finish in Women’s PGA and her third place in Drive On have people started to talk about her length.

She was on TV, You Tube and across social media where people would see her backswing and speed with which she fires her hips, hear that crackling sound at impact then watch the ball soar with a trajectory and spin that would probably make her idol Rory McIlroy stop and take a second look.

“Her problem used to be timing with her speed leaving her upper body on the right side. But during the Drive On Championship, practically every aspect of her game clicked,” said Villaroman, also a Hall of Famer at Weber State U in Utah, who would monitor his ward’s progress via Zoom or Facetime, checking on her swing, particularly on takeaway and backswing.

Pagdanganan’s Univ. of Arizona coach Laura Ianello has pointed to what she termed as “insanely” fast hips and use of the ground as key to her power but Villaroman said “it’s more on rotation, the shoulder turn, like Tiger (Woods) used to do.”

Whatever, the 2019 SEA Games double gold medalist is a rare talent and Villaroman likes what he’s seeing in her ward, who just turned 23 Wednesday.

“The possibilities are there with her length and game,” said Villaroman.

BIANCA PAGDANGANAN GOLF
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